ZIMBABWE’s borders remain closed despite South Africa announcing the opening of its borders much to the disappointment of thousands of travellers who commute between the two countries.
There was hype among mostly Zimbabweans, particularly cross-border traders when the South African government announced the reopening of its borders, including Beitbridge, with effect from the 1 October 2020.South Africa had announced that Beitbridge Border Post is one of its 18 ports of entry, which were partially operational, would be fully operational while 35 border posts currently closed will remain closed.
Zimbabwe and South Africa closed their borders to general human traffic, including Beitbridge Border Post, in March when they effected their first 21-day lockdowns to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The closure of Beitbridge Border Post, the busiest inland port of entry in sub-Saharan Africa that is shared by Zimbabwe and South Africa, affects mostly Zimbabweans who rely on cross-border travel.
The Zimbabwean Government recently lifted the ban on domestic and international air travel. Domestic and foreign travel, which were banned on March 30 as Government imposed measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. That Ban is schedule to be lifted today the 1st of October 2020. However, strict Covid-19 measures will be adhered to in the opening up of the aviation sector. Zimbabwean Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe confirmed, adding that only commercial traffic, diplomats and returning residents will be allowed passage through the country’s borders. The Minister all added that Zimbabwe remains guided by the Public Health (Covid-19) Prevention, Containment and Treatment, Statutory Instrument 77 of 2020, “We haven’t opened Beitbridge Border Post and other borders as yet. Our borders are open to commercial cargo, diplomats and returning residents. In fact, the regulations as stipulated by the current SIs still stand and the issue will be discussed in due course.”
Statistics reveal that close to 10 000 Zimbabweans have between March and September returned by road via Beitbridge Border Post and put in various provincial quarantine and isolation centres countrywide.Before the start of the lockdown in March, half a million people would use the port of entry to access South Africa and Zimbabwe.
South African Revenue Service (SARS) head of border operations, ports of entry and customs compliance, Mr Beyers Theron said upon arrival, people travelling to South Africa are required to present a negative Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure. He explained “Where a traveller has not done a Covid-19 test prior to departure, they will be required to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost for the period of 10 days. All travellers will be subjected to screening by Port Health officials upon arrival and departure.” Travellers detected with symptoms will be required to remain in quarantine until a repeat Covid-19 test is conducted at their own cost. Mr Theron also added that travellers will be subjected to screening by Port Health officials upon arrival and departure. Travellers will also be required to complete traveller health questionnaire prior to arrival or upon arrival at the port of entry.
By Eric Knight