Following a storm that build over media reports – mostly from Zimbabwe – that Botswana was about to offer Zimbabwe P6 billion loan for its diamond industry and related businesses, Government was forced on the back foot to set the record straight.
Most locals who responded to the media reports were shocked that the Government can aid another country with such a huge amount when it faced my local challenges of unemployment and dilapidating road and schools infrastructure.
Government released a statement late on Wednesday and the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Bogolo Kenewendo followed up with her own tweet:
Bogolo Kenewendo_ @BogoloKenewendo 17h17 hours ago
Tlhaloso: Bagaetsho, ga re fe Zimbabwe loan ya $100 Million. Kwano re tshwaraganetse kgang ya Credit line. Dibanka tsa mo Botswana di na le kgathego ya go eteetsa Batswana ba ba nang le keletso… Meaning that ‘we are not giving Zimbabwe a loan but a credit line that will be facilitated through local banks for locals that want to invest in Zimbabwe.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi re-confirmed Botswana’s stand on Friday when addressing local media at his residence.
He had earlier told Zimbabwean media that Botswana will extend US$95m credit facility to Zimbabwe.
The deal was part of some six agreements reached during the inaugural session of the Zimbabwe Botswana Bi-National commission.
Briefing the media on financial aspects of the agreements made with Zimbabwe at the end of the five-day meeting, Masisi confirmed that a credit facility will be extended.
“Initially we had agreed on the extension of a credit facility to the tune of 500 million Pula, but that amount has since been increased 1 billion pula. However, details of the facility will be released later,” he said.
Apart from the credit facility, the two governments entered agreements in areas of trade, mining, environment and tourism, transport and infrastructure development energy, health and education.
Construction of a railway line project named the Ponta Techobanine Inter Regional Haul Railway Project which will link the three countries to the Eastern Africa countries was also proposed.
Commenting on progress made between the two governments, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said that the engagement had been fruitful.
“This session has afforded us the opportunity to reflect on where we stand in the Bi-National Commission and we have accordingly set upon ourselves new milestones to be worked on between now and the second session of our BNC with Botswana. May these MOUs not be an end in themselves but the beginning,” he said.
President Masisi said also that the engagements are the beginning of a long journey ahead of the two countries.
“More work still needs to be done, especially, to rope in our private sector business people and ordinary citizens to play a meaningful role in strengthening out Bi-National relations,” he said. [New Zimbabwe, The Patriot on Sunday]