Southern Africa: South Africa-Financed Bridges Commissioned in Zimbabwe

Chimanimani — South Africa has spent R59 million to construct bridges in Zimbabwean communities left stranded by the deadly Cyclone Idai early this year.

The construction of the Bailey bridges South African National Defence Forces (SANDF) and the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) in the eastern Chimanimani are anticipated to revive the local economy and have been welcomed by government officials as a mark of the solid bilateral relations between the two southern African countries.

South Africa's Ambassador, Mphaka Mbete, confirmed the figures at the handover event presided by Constantino Chiwenga, the Zimbabwean Vice President.

"The bridges are the fruition of the promise made by our sisterly neighbour South Africa, who promptly heeded the call to rescue us during the time of need," Chiwenga said.

SANDF played a prominent role in rescue efforts in Zimbabwe following the cyclone that left 634 people dead and 257 missing in Zimbabwe. Chimanimani was the epicentre of the disaster that destroyed infrastructure worth US$1 billion (R14,6 billion).

"The building of the bridges demonstrates pure love by our friends from South Africa," Chiwenga said.

The two neighbouring countries have enjoyed cordial ties over the years.

Mbete said the construction of the Bailey bridges enhanced cooperation with Zimbabwe.

"The project is a demonstration that we are one people and that the borders were imposed on our ancestors," Mbete said.

Meanwhile, scores displaced by cyclone Idai floods are in need of permanent shelter after living in tents for months.

"Government will do everything possible to provide shelter, water, sanitation and health," Chiwenga assured.

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