IN THE aftermath of President Mugabe’s exit from office, Zimbabweans are hoping for a turn for the better in their social and economic activities. Whilst doing so, they can continue counting on their northern neighbours, Zambia for support. After all, the two countries are, as someone once said, like Siamese twins.
Zimbabwe and Zambia may be separated by the Zambezi River, but the roots of these countries are so intertwined that their activities will continue to keep their peoples together, regardless of who heads the respective countries.
During the liberation struggle for Zimbabwe’s independence, Zambia hosted a lot of freedom fighters, including Emerson Mnangagwa who spent some of his liberation time in Mumbwa.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Zimbabweans who migrated to Zambia decades ago and they have made Zambia their home.
Zambia even had some Cabinet ministers like Aaron Milner, of Zimbabwean origin.
There have also been inter-marriages between Zambians and Zimbabweans and these have blurred the line between nationals of the two countries.
The Zambezi River has been a source of integration between the two countries. They share the iconic mighty Mosi-O-Tunya Falls which colonialists renamed Victoria Falls.
The Victoria Falls are part of two national parks – Mosi-oa- Tunya National Park in Zambia and Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe.
They share the largest man-made lake in the world which not only produces hydro electric power but is a source for fish, transport and tourism, the Kariba Dam.
Currently, the two countries are working towards implementing the Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station on the Zambezi River across the International border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The US$5 billion Batoka Gorge hydropower to be built on their shared border is expected to start producing by 2023 and will generate electricity at a cheaper cost than solar or coal.
The two southern African nations are about to complete a feasibility study into the project by July, with construction due to start next year.
There is also a lot of trade between the two brotherly countries, with a host of cross-border traders from Zimbabwe taking advantage of the conducive business environment in Zambia.
Zambians have been hospitable to Zimbabwean traders who have been hawking on our streets at will as we understood their economic situation following the imposition of sanctions by the West on the Robert Mugabe administration.
There are huge numbers of vehicles crisscrossing between the two countries, apart from the buses leaving Inter-City Bus Terminus for Harare and from Harare’s Road port for Lusaka.
Other routes used by the nationals of the two countries include travelling between Lusaka to Bulawayo via Siavonga and vice-versa as well as Lusaka to Harare via Siavonga, including via Livingstone and Victoria Falls town.
Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, Air Namibia and Air Malawi have air-linked the two countries.
This calls for continued collaboration between Zambia and Zimbabwe as our neighbours begin to prepare for life after President Mugabe.
Zambia and Zimbabwe should uphold the warm ties that have been existing between the two countries as their histories go decades back and are cast in stone – inseparable.
The two countries will continue to live side by side irrespective of who will be in power either side of the Zambezi River. And Zimbabweans can continue to count on the hospitable Zambians.