Kazungula bridge debate: Can the perennial cynicism be cured?

by | May 13, 2021 | Business, Local News, Opinions, Politics | 0 comments

Nevanji Munyaradzi Chiondegwa

“During this month, I will be joining the Presidents of Botswana and Zambia at Kazungula, to commission the Kazungula Bridge. With the coming of the new dispensation, Zimbabwe came on board the project and the bridge is now owned by three countries” President Mnangagwa announced to the country a few days ago.

The derision that met this statement, made during the commissioning of the 6.5km stretch of the Marongora-Hellsgate section of the Chirundu-Beitbridge Road, was like a fire on the oppositional section of social media.

The usual suspects were casting aspersions on the development, for reasons best known to them.

Then came the day in question, May 10 2021, President Mnangagwa left for Kazungula where the ceremony was to be and the noise reached unquantified decibels.
Kazungula trended on social media, especially among Zimbabweans.

If it had trended for the right reasons, this writer would not bat an eyelid for, after all, fashionable things trend.
Led by people like Hopewell Chin`ono, oppositional Twitter was being coordinated to discredit the country`s leadership and its pronouncement on the issue.
They were not ready listen to any explanation besides what they assumed to be the correct thing: Zimbabwe was not part of the project!
The worst part was, they seemed to be enjoying the fact that we were not part of the project.
They were full of glee that Zimbabwe not being part of the trident was going to lose income when trucks going into the African interior chose to use Kazungula.

We suddenly had cartographic experts who knew how the map of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia looked like.
Suddenly all the geography that I had been taught that Zimbabwe and Namibia touch each other in the Caprivi Strip was no longer true.

We were far removed from the bridge. There were new boundaries drawn by our “expert” cartographers.
Some even suddenly became experts at logistics and routing and ‘knew’ how much it would cost truckers to use Kazungula instead of Beitbridge.

Others had become geographic and distance experts, weirdly claiming that the longer Kazungula route was suddenly shorter than the Beitbridge route.
Those of us who did not find anything to be gleeful about the dreary picture ended up doubting ourselves and our sanity.

Perhaps we were the abnormal ones in a world full of “normal” people for whom self-hate and loathing was the norm and not the exception.

However to understand what is going on at Kazungula one needs to know how borders were conceptualised:
The border between Zambia and Namibia is down the centre line of the Zambezi river.
The border between Zambia and Zimbabwe is down the centreline of the Zambezi river.
The border between Namibia and Botswana is down the centre line of the Chobe river.
The border between Zimbabwe and Botswana starts from the confluence of Chobe and Zambezi (where the centrelines meet) which is the same point where the border of Namibia is.
Now taking a look at the Google map being used to show how the bridge leaves Zimbabwe out and therefore must exclude us, (which can be edited by anyone in the world and does, therefore, not constitute the agreed border) the confluence point was clearly manipulated.
The border between Namibia and Botswana is supposed to go over the island in the middle of the Chobe River not around it. The border between Zimbabwe and Zambia correctly goes over the island in the Zambezi River. The border between Botswana and Zimbabwe was then manipulated to shift it downriver.

Clearly the bridge goes over Zimbabwe territory in the middle of the Zambezi.
It even looks like the bridge might entirely be between Zimbabwe and Zambia or just touches Botswana soil.

Whoever manipulated the border was gambling that Zimbabwe officials would be fooled and not notice the manipulation( it is not the intention of this writer nor this publication to wade into diplomatic matters).

Then during the commissioning ceremony speeches, President Eric Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana said;
“I am happy to note that the Republic of Zimbabwe and ourselves with Zambia have agreed in principle to be a partner in this project, and our officials are working and will work increasingly faster and harder to complete the remaining work for Zimbabwe.”

You could have heard a pin drop. The silence was so loud, literally.
All the usual noise-makers retreated and in spectacular fashion.
Not even a whimper. President Masisi’s statement was like the silencing tonic.
They had no words. You would have wondered if it was the same timelines belonging to oppositional twimbos and activists who the whole day were dropping tweets every five minutes attacking and mocking Zimbabwe and President Mnangagwa.

Beyond the furore and sponsored noise, one thing was clear.
Some Zimbabweans, are running a coordinated onslaught against the country.
Those who lack the critical discernment skill, are beginning to consistently wish bad things to happen to the country, to satisfy their dislike for the current administration.
It is a classic case of cutting the nose to spite the face.

Perhaps it is the legacy of colonial education or of colonialism itself that stripped us of any sense of identity and a need to be proud of ourselves and our successes as a people.
I am yet to know, but something certainly ought to be done to correct this.

Who in their right state of mind would enjoy the downfall of their own nation?
Which sane person gets satisfaction at the failure or anticipated failure of their country?
What person would wish doom and destruction on their country? Who in their right mind wishes that their President has told a lie and must be embarrassed internationally?
Why would one be angry that President Mnangagwa successfully negotiated our way back into the Kazungula Bridge Project?
Why are people angry that we are suddenly not going to lose the revenue they had in doomsday fashion prophesied and foretold we will lose?
If suddenly we are back again, even as they say we did not contribute even a nail, why does that hurt them?
How does that affect the average Zimbabwean negatively such that we have to spend an entire week hearing all that is bad, must be and will be bad about Zimbabwe?
How is a Zimbabwean failure a cause celebrate? Is it not reason to, like the children, hang our harps sit and weep?
How can we sing songs of joy because we have failed to achieve something as a nation? Something is wrong in our national psyche.

I have heard people in the medical profession say that; mental health is a real issue and I urge the powers that be to seriously look into the issue for we have many mentally imbalanced people in this country.
Only nihilists, anarchist or on the lunatic fringe would find it reason to celebrate the failure of the nation, which would in the end, in one way or another.

It is a good thing that President Mnangagwa has, despite this obvious revulsion of his success from the lunatic fringe, succeeded time and again to confound them. Every time they have expected or needed him to stumble, the man has stubbornly and resolutely soldiered on and met success after success. His scorecard makes those who spitefully wish him to fail, green at the gills!

One Zimbabwe, One Nation! Our Homeland

Food for Thought!