Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Zimbabwe and South Africa will at midnight today formally close Beitbridge Border Post to non-essential human traffic in line with the two governments’ robust plans to curtail the spread of Covid-19 which has killed thousands of people globally.
On Monday President Mnangagwa announced a cocktail of measures to manage and contain the spread of Covid-19. Some of the strategies include an immediate ban on gatherings around nightclubs, bars, beerhalls, movie houses, swimming pools, gymnasiums and sporting activities until further notice. Further, hospital visits have been reduced to one visit by one person per day while public gatherings have been cut from 100 to 50.
Informal markets will remain open but citizens are encouraged to limit their visits while health and security personnel will be deployed to enhance screening services. With regard to mass transport, new measures will be announced shortly for the safety of commuters. As of yesterday, people were seen going to either side of the border. Some said they wanted to join their spouses in either country since schools have been closed.
The assistant regional immigration officer in charge of Beitbridge (Zimbabwe), Mr Nqobile Ncube said they had agreed in principle with the South Africans to synchronise operations for the next 21 days. “What it means is that by midnight on Thursday we are closing the border to non-essential human traffic and we have agreed to synchronise the compliance period with our South African counterparts,” he said.
Mr Ncube said only Zimbabweans travelling from SA and those foreigners who have valid permits to reside in Zimbabwe will be allowed passage at the Zimbabwean side.
“The same applies to those leaving the country, it will be the South Africans and Zimbabweans who are residents of the neighbouring country who will depart. As per the Presidential declaration, we will allow the movers of freight to access the border to ensure that all the essential commodities are moved into either country”.
In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day lockdown from today which will see people staying indoors, businesses closed except for those providing essential services.
An average of 14 000 people, 120 buses, 500 commercial trucks and 3000 vehicles used to pass through Beitbridge border post daily.
This includes people in transit to other Sadc countries north of the Zambezi River.