Stephen Mpofu, Perspective
WITH no full proof Berlin Wall style barrier in place of the porous borders between Zimbabwe and countries to the south, our nation will continue to lose goods and currency blued out of the country or duty that ought to be paid for goods now being brought illegally into the country by smugglers.
Worse still, Zimbabweans will continue to risk inundations of dangerous viruses borne by diasporians and businesspeople who duck formalities at official entry points into the country.
Recent warnings by Local Government Minister Cde July Moyo to the people of Bulawayo in particular to be wary of contracting new variants of Covid-19 — reported in foreign countries — from diasporians passing through the city to their home areas during the just-ended festive season, should have, and must continue to ring the bell of alert so that necessary precautionary measures against the importation of fatal disease germs remain in place.
Previous reports published in this column and elsewhere in this publication, to the effect that smugglers of goods from Zimbabwe to, and from, South Africa bribed their way to avoid apprehension by law enforcement agents surely call for stringent measures to curb lawlessness along our porous borders with neighbours to the south and this also includes illegals from Namibia sneaking into our country across the border at Plumtree.
But, of course the reports in print did not and will not by their mere visibility to the eyes of both the authorities here and the offenders in point end the serious problem at hand.
Press reports are meant to help strengthen the hand of the law for remedial action to root out offenders.
To this end officialdom has not informed the public at large of no-nonsense measures that have, or are to be put in place to end the smuggling of valuable property from Zimbabwe, including vandalised electrical cables among the smugglers booties that have left behind industries and homes paralysed by power blackouts.
But, of course, the massive modernisation of Beitbridge border post will not by its mere postmodernity status act like a magnet attracting border jumpers and smugglers to use it and be subjected to the necessary formalities.
Of course, Zimbabwe is insular to any iron curtain similar to the former Berlin Wall separating communist East Germany and capitalist West Germany — before their reunification in 1990 — to stand between her and Sadc sister states and fellow travellers after brave new futures.
A recent call on radio by an unidentified Beitbridge resident for the deployment of drones on surveillance missions along river and land border lines appears to bear the necessary wherewithal to accomplish desired results against illicit cross-border activities.
A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle that, fitted with electrical devices such as cameras, can help by relaying the necessary information to law enforcement agents policing our insecure borders.
Zimbabweans returning home for Christmas in December informed this writer that South Africa was training Special Forces to monitor their country’s side of the border with Zimbabwe against offenders.
One possible danger that insecure borders pose is that rebels running riot in one country, as is the case in one area of neighbouring Mozambique, can cross the insecure borders under military pursuit to their safety in another country, such as Zimbabwe in this case in point, and also cause rampage during their refuge here.
In the final analysis, therefore, the discourse above has this message for those charged with securing total safety along Zimbabwe’s borders with neighbouring states: “a stitch in time saves nine” so goes the adage pertinent in the important discourse above.