Your Excellency President Robert Mugabe;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen.

The people of South Africa and Zimbabwe share a long history going back centuries and cemented in the struggle to liberate our countries and our continent. Happily, with the attainment of democracy in South Africa, we can now together help make our entire region a zone of peace, prosperity and progress, bringing a better life to all.

Our struggle to end colonialism and apartheid was never an end in itself. It was a starting point for the rebuilding of our societies, and for reclaiming the bonds of kinship which our nations share.

We live in a world of enormous challenges, one in which the key to development and growth lies in regional co-operation. All regional and international markets in goods, services and labour, are dependent ultimately on transport and transport linkages. The development of infrastructure for all sectors including agriculture, water resources, energy and telecommunications, requires that a transport infrastructure is in place and operates effectively.

Indeed transport can be described as the engine of regional development and integration.

The official opening of this bridge therefore symbolises our common effort to build our economies as partners, benefiting from each other's endowments. It symbolises an important step towards integration, in the common fight against poverty.

It is my pleasure to be with you today at the opening of this bridge. It has been built to ease congestion during peak periods and to make provision for the future increase in trade between our two countries. Although South Africa did not contribute to the cost of this structure and will not benefit from the tolls levied, part of this bridge is on South African soil and we therefore have a vested interest in it. And we will play our part in resolving any problems of detail pertaining to the project.

Growth and development in our region and continent requires a continuous effort to build bridges between our peoples so that the unity which underpins our common efforts is deepened.

In conclusion, President Mugabe, my congratulations to your Government in initiating this project and to the consultants and contractors involved in bringing the project to fruition. May this bridge be yet another link in establishing progress and prosperity in our region.

Issued by: Office of the President