Zim, Bots, Zambia seal deal
Presidents Mugabe, Festus Mogae and Levy Mwanawasa signed the Memorandum of Understanding at State House crafted following a meeting of ministers and officials from the three neighbours.
President Mwanawasa jetted into Harare yesterday afternoon while President Mogae, who earlier officially opened the 2006 Harare Agricultural Show, was in Zimbabwe since Sunday.
The three countries agreed to construct the Kazungula Bridge across the Zambezi River and put up the necessary border control facilities.
For this purpose, the three Southern African Development Community (Sadc) member states will adopt a one-stop border control facility once the legal and administrative framework has been developed for such a system.
The bridge will be constructed on the shortest possible route across the Zambezi River.
In the agreement, the three countries acknowledge that the location of the bridge may traverse the boundaries of their respective territories at Kazungula and agreed that this would not affect the construction of the bridge.
“In the event that the bridge is located, wholly or a greater part of it, in the territory of any one of the parties (three countries), the parties agree that notwithstanding this fact the bridge shall remain jointly owned by the parties.
“Any parties which may have any outstanding issues concerning their common boundary agree to continue consultations on the demarcation and delimitation of their common boundary at Kazungula, in an effort to reach a final and binding settlement,” reads part of the memorandum.
The three countries will explore and agree on suitable financing of the bridge, which will be constructed on the basis of competitive bidding in accordance with the procurement and tendering procedures agreed to.
“In all instances, the parties will make equal contributions towards all the costs of the design and construction of the bridge and the border control facilities.”
A technical steering committee will be established to co-ordinate the project.
The permanent secretaries or their authorised representatives in the Ministries of Works and Transport in Botswana, Works and Supply in Zambia and Transport and Communications in Zimbabwe will be the co-ordinators of the committee. A preamble of the agreement states that the three countries in coming up with the project took cognisance of the need to promote trade in goods and services for their mutual benefit and the Sadc region.
Speaking before the signing of the agreement, President Mugabe said there might be problems of boundaries but that should not prevent the construction of the bridge.
He said recently Mozambique and South Africa opened the Giriyondo Tourist Access Facility, a border post that links Limpopo National Park in Mozambique and Kruger National Park in South Africa, which form part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP).
Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park is also part of the transfrontier park.
Cde Mugabe said Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia could do the same in providing infrastructure.
“That is what we used to do as a (Southern African) Co-ordinating Conference. But I do not know what happened when we became a big community,” said President Mugabe.
He said if the region was able to achieve freedom and some development as Frontline States, it should do much more now as a bigger community.
“We have resources. We have diamond, copper, gold, platinum, we have beautiful soils and tourism attractions. We should never allow ourselves to fail,” said Cde Mugabe.
He said President Mogae spoke strongly about integration at the recent Sadc summit in Lesotho and the region should work to achieve that.
President Mogae said the preamble of the agreement summed up the objective behind constructing the bridge while President Mwanawasa said now that the deal had been signed it must be implemented.
The Botswana and Zambia leaders returned home yesterday evening and were seen off at Harare International Airport by President Mugabe, Vice President Joice Mujuru, Cabinet ministers, service chiefs and other senior Government officials. ‘ The Herald (Zimbabwe).