By A Correspondent- The Government is still deliberating on whether to re-open its land borders especially Beitbridge Border Post to international travellers following an announcement by South Africa that it will re-open its ports of entry on 1 October.
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa last week announced that his country will open its borders from 1 October for international travel as the neighbouring country moves to the lowest level of its five-step coronavirus lockdown-Level 1.
The neighbouring country said it will open three of its airports and one land border post- Beitbridge- which were already operational during the lockdown. The border was only operational to allow cargo movement and returning citizens from both countries. Before lockdown, border authorities estimated that an average of 25 000 travellers and 4 000 light cars were cleared to pass the through the border daily.
Following the announcement by South Africa, there was a general assumption among locals that Zimbabwe would follow suit. However, Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Kazembe Kazembe told Sunday News yesterday that the announcement by South Africa did not mean Zimbabwe will follow suit without prior consultations.
“I cannot say yes or no-a definite answer, but it (opening of Beitbridge border) is an issue that is under consideration, the National Taskforce on Covid-19 has to sit and deliberate, then we do consultations with the President then we will have a position soon. There is that possibility that we will re-open but it is under discussion,” he said.
Although Zimbabwe is still to announce its official position on the border, cross border traders said they were itching to get back to business and were working to ensure that they have requisite papers. President Ramaphosa announced that travellers to his country would need to present a negative Covid-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure or face a mandatory quarantine at their own cost upon arrival in South Africa. The cost to do the polymerise chain reaction (PCR) test in Zimbabwe starts from US$60 at private laboratories.
“The cost does not matter. It is now like we are back to life because for the past few months we have felt like we have died. People were not making any money and our members were really struggling. So many could not even afford to buy food or anything else that they might need in their households.
While we acknowledge that the tests are expensive, we can’t get away from the fact that it needs to be done. If you ask any vendor right now, they will tell you that they would prefer to pay for that test rather than sit at home and do nothing which has been the case in recent months,” president of the Cross-Border Traders Association Mr Killer Zivhu told Sunday News yesterday.
Mr Zivhu said after all tests are done to safeguard the health of people including vendors.