‘Engage SA over border passes’

Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Beitbridge and Chiredzi legislators have encouraged Government to engage South African authorities over the reintroduction of border passes to minimise cases of border jumping along the Limpopo River.

Speaking on the sidelines of a tour of Beitbridge Border Post by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security recently, Beitbridge East Member of Parliament, Cde Albert Nguluvhe and his Chiredzi South counterpart, Cde Callisto Gwanetsa, said it was important for the two countries to establish mini border posts to relieve pressure on Beitbridge.

At the moment, Beitbridge is the only inland port of entry between Zimbabwe and South Africa though tourism borders are usually opened during bi-national or trigonal events with Botswana.

Before their ban in 2010 by South Africa, border passes were 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.

“We have heard about the challenges of illegal migration from border authorities here,” said Cde Nguluvhe.

“As a local parliamentarian, I recommend that our Government engages South Africa to consider re-introducing border passes for locals around our boundary to visit relatives or to access certain services they require.

“You will note that most people on the north or south of the Limpopo are related and what only divides them is a colonial border.

“Further, we only have one border which is far away from some communities who see border jumping as an option. We need to make sure these are catered for considering that those related jointly perform cultural rites as well as attend funerals and weddings together.”

Cde Nguluvhe said the main challenge in Matabeleland was documentation.

He said many children had no birth certificates, the primary documents to getting a national ID and a passport.

“So, we plead with the Registrar General to ensure that the plight of such people is treated with the urgency it deserves,” said Cde Nguluvhe. “In addition, the two governments should consider having mini-crossing points manned by authorities from both countries and operational at specified days.”

Cde Gwanetsa said Government should invest in ICT facilities along the borderline from Sango to Beitbridge where there is a huge communication gap.

He said the poor state of communication was worrisome considering a lot of security issues that come with manning a borderline.

“The exit of people to Africa’s economic hub is through the southern end of our country and now the problem is that people who have no access to primary documents tend to cross illegally into South Africa,” said Cde Gwanetsa.

“What we are saying in terms of security and revenue collection is that we man our border properly by capacitating border agencies (immigration, police, and army).

“In addition, we are saying let’s have intermittent legal crossing points with South Africa like what’s happening with Manicaland and Mozambique. These points can be operational twice or thrice a week. The issue of border passes and intermittent legal crossing points should be dealt with earnestly.”

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