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Author: Nqobani Ndlovu
South African immigration officials have reportedly stopped accepting border passes used by Beitbridge residents to cross into the neighbouring country in a move believed to be a hit-back at Zimbabwe’s decision to ban imports of South African-manufactured basic goods.
The Senate Thematic Committee on Peace and Security learnt of the new measures during a recent visit to Beitbridge Border Post to “get a more comprehensive understanding of the problems there”.
The committee also visited Plumtree Border Post.
“It was also submitted to the committee that sometimes buses bring in undocumented persons from South Africa and that the South African authorities do not accept temporary travel documents and border passes anymore,” committee chairperson Damian Mumvuri told the Senate last week.
“This has caused problems at the border post as those denied entry into South Africa are found loitering on the Zimbabwean side,” Mumvuri said.
Border passes are used mainly by residents staying close to the country’s borders to cross the borderline on a weekly or even daily basis to study, work, shop and visit family members.
Mumvuri bemoaned the porosity of the border post, which he said had caused the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to lose a lot of potential revenue.
“There is rampant smuggling by cyclists and the rate of compliance with regulations is very low. Smuggling of hazardous substances like fuel and the abuse of rebates were noted as prevalent,” he said.
Mumvuri called on government to put in place “stringent” and “robust” measures, among others, to stamp out rampant corruption and smuggling at the border post.
“The committee realises that there is a greater need to address the problem of porous borders and weak border control and management mechanisms in order to ensure sustainable revenue generation at ports of entry and also stamp out effectively the problem of both human and goods smuggling.
“Adequate resources have to be availed to the relevant departments by Treasury to ensure peace and security is secured in and around Zimbabwe.”
Zimbabwe recently banned importation of several South African-made goods in a bid to protect local industries, but the move triggered violent protests at Beitbridge Border Posts as cross-border traders felt the ban would further impoverish them.