Zimbabwe borders still closed

Zimbabwe borders still closed

THE Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Kazembe Kazembe has said the Attorney General’s (AG) office is crafting a statutory instrument to operationalise a recent Cabinet decision for land borders to be opened to vaccinated ordinary travellers.

In an interview yesterday, the minister said the statutory instrument will be gazetted in due course.

“This issue was brought to my attention. It has been addressed by way of an order which I signed last week and forwarded to the AG. The order addresses the issue,” he said.

Cabinet recently approved the opening of all land borders which have been closed for the past 12 months.

However, the borders have remained closed to non-essential travel to give Government ample time to put together the necessary legal instruments.

Prior to the latest decision, only commercial cargo or Zimbabweans with permits to live or work in other countries were allowed to depart via land borders.

Already, border authorities in Matabeleland South have started working to comply with the new order. The Regional Immigration officer-in-charge of Beitbridge, Mr Joshua Chibundu said: “We have always been ready to deal with any volume of traffic just like what has been happening before”.

He said currently they were working based on the previous Covid-19 operational procedures. “At the moment it’s business as usual, and we will make adjustments where necessary when the new standard regulations kick in,” said Mr Chibundu.

He said they were handling an average of 30 buses with Zimbabweans returning from South Africa, and 600 travellers including truck drivers, and those with exemptions daily.

Matabeleland South Provincial Medical Director, Dr Rudo Chikodzore, recently said they will continue using tight screening and surveillance measures at the ports of entry in line with the set Covid-19 protocols.

“We have been very busy during the lockdown and we are ready to deal with huge volumes of traffic. Adjustments will be made depending on the context of the situation on the ground,” she said.

“In fact, it’s going to be business as usual for our teams which we beefed up during the lockdowns. These have been dealing with huge volumes of traffic mainly of returning immigrants averaging around 500 daily”.

Beitbridge is the only land border that links Zimbabwe and South Africa. Before the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, the border would handle at least 15 000 people daily, increasing to 35 000 during peak periods.