KASANE-President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s ongoing State of Emergency (SoE) has disrupted the opening of the P2.5 billion state of the art Kazungula Bridge.
The multi-billion dollar bridge is now complete, and it was scheduled to officially open this December marking six years since the project was instigated. The bridge opens after being started in December 2014 and although it was expected to be completed in December of 2018, it was delayed by two years.
In the process the bridge took 6 years to complete as contractors would say “there were delays as always in construction projects.” WeekendPost can confirm that the State of Emergency has upset plans for the contractors on site to officially open the ultra-modern Kazungula Bridge in December.
Recently, Masisi convinced parliament to pass a motion to extend the State of Emergency by a further six months early in September, following another SoE of more than six months in the initial stages of the fist country lockdown. It was understood that the extension of SoE will curtail the spread and transmission of the COVID-19 scourge and safeguard the lives of Batswana.
“Yes the bridge is now complete, and the State of Emergency has really affected us as we could be opening the bridge this December to the public,” Pius Seone, Project Manager in the Kazungula Bridge told Weekend Post briefly in Kasane. However, he indicated that the bridge will be expected to open in January provided the circumstances at the time allow for it to open.
It is understood that Ministers from both countries (Botswana and Zambia) came for a final inspection on the 17th September and the bridge is expected to stay solid and intact for at least 100 years to come. Project Manager emphasised that the President from both Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi and Zambia’s Edgar Lungu will officially open the bridge if everything goes according to plan.
“The official opening of the bridge will be done by both presidents of the two countries, sometime next year in January,” he told this publication. An engineer on site who took WeekendPost on a tour of the bridge, Eric Monyaka explained that although the bridge is complete, they are still tightening some screws to make the bridge and offices habitable for workers.
“The new border leading to the bridge is however yet to be commissioned. They are still arranging and putting together logistics like furniture for smooth running of the respective offices,” he pointed out. The bridge is located at a point where the Chobe River meets the Zambezi River the two rivers feed Victoria Falls, later flowing into the Indian Ocean.
The engineer highlighted that from the beginning they have employed close to 950 people on the site including skilled and non-skilled labour, this included Batswana and Zambians. However Batswana never surpassed 200 in the labour force, he raised as a concern.
“From the look of things Batswana are expensive, and locals especially in the Chobe district were not interested in the construction of the bridge as well. They rather prefer being tour guides and the like,” Monyaka continued.
The Kazungula bridge is a multi-national project by Botswana and Zambia that links both countries beneath the Zambezi and Chobe rivers thereby acting as a corridor for big trucks transporting goods from the South especially South Africa to the north in particular Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The bridge is a 933 metre long and 18.5 metre wide road-rail bridge with a one-stop border facilities erected in both countries.
It is understood that the main objective of the bridge is for trade improvement between the north and south, and to reduce transit times as normally trucks would stop at the old transit for around 7 days, but now they would take around 24 hours or so.
The bridge is expected to significantly improve trade infrastructure of the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African continent as a whole for easy access to intra-regional trade and international market through connectivity with major sea ports.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.