By Thupeyo Muleya
Congestion at Beitbridge Border Post had by yesterday been cleared with more security personnel deployed to deal with criminal activities along the boundary with South Africa.
Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said a raft of measures had been employed to address challenges at the border where people at one point were spending days.
A total of 32 138 travellers, mostly South Africans, Zambians, Malawians, Mozambicans and Zimbabweans used the border post between January 1 and 7.
These included 7 887 arrivals and 24 251 departures.
Minister Kazembe said law enforcement agents would deal decisively with those caught on the wrong side of the law, amid indications that the State was losing up to US$1 billion annually in potential excise duty, owing to smuggling activities along the Limpopo River.
Minister Kazembe said border officials from Zimbabwe and South Africa worked together to clear the increased volume of vehicular and human traffic synonymous with the festive season.
Last month, Minister Kazembe met his South African counterpart Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and they agreed on a number of measures and areas of mutual cooperation to minimise bottlenecks at the border post.
“Government officials have been to the border on a number of times to assess the situation with a view of troubleshooting challenges.
“We then had a meeting with our counterparts in Musina a month ago, where we agreed on a number of measures to deal with the anticipated numbers of people given the Covid-19 situation which is currently obtaining on the ground,” said Minister Kazembe.
He said following the two ministers’ engagement, cooperation was amplified through an integrated border management system.
“Our officials have been working together and I have been in constant communication with my counterpart (Dr Motsoaledi), monitoring and addressing the challenges,” said Minister Kazembe.
The National Covid-19 Taskforce is seized with the matter concerning the seamless and safe movement of travellers across the country’s borders.
Minister Kazembe said challenges affecting most ports of entry, including Beitbridge, were being addressed and managed by multiple stakeholders.
He said the Government will continue applying a multi-stakeholder’ approach to enhance the ease of doing business at the borders while at the same time ensuring the safety of all travellers.
“With regards to the illegal border crossing, the Government has always been seized with the matter and you will recall that members of the National Security Council visited the border on December 11 and toured all the undesignated crossing points.
“A decision was then made, hence the deployment of more security and technologies”, said Minister Kazembe.
Border, jumpers, smugglers and other wheeler-dealers have been warned that the security team was ready to deal with them within the confines of the law.
Government insists it will not tolerate crime along its borders and that there will be no sacred cows.
Minister Kazembe said it was important for travellers to obtain the necessary documents before embarking on their journeys to avoid unnecessary inconveniences. The Herald.