South Africa’s border with Zimbabwe, Beitbridge, has been congested by Zimbabweans flocking to that country for shopping within days after visa restrictions on them were lifted by that neighbouring country.
On Monday, Zimbabwe Home Affairs ministry signed an agreement with the Government of South Africa to drop visa restrictions for Zimbabwean passport holders traveling into South Africa. .
South Africa Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula appeared with her two Zimbabwean counterparts, Giles Mutsekwa and Kembo Mohadi, to make the announcement in Pretoria.
The deal, signed in Pretoria, permitted Zimbabweans entry into South Africa on a 90 day pass basis.
Since then chaos is running high at the Beitbridge Border post as shoppers flock to South Africa for relatively cheap goods, a visit to the border revealed.
South Africa’s border town of Musina is full of Zimbabwean shoppers with business people in that small town saying they are recording roaring business.
“Since Monday, after the government removed visa restrictions on Zimbabweans, we have witnessed an increased number of Zimbabweans traveling to South Africa and coming back with vehicles laden with various goods,” a South Africa immigration official told Sunday Standard┬á┬á at the Beitbridge border.
Long queues of buses and mini buses waiting to be cleared to enter Zimbabwe characterize the situation at the Beitbridge Border post.
┬á“I have been here for the past 10 hours and the queue is not moving.
“As you can see, there are many people to be cleared,” said Sundai Hove, a cross border trader.
Economists predicted that Botswana will lose out on Zimbabwean business as Zimbabweans are now turning to South Africa for shopping following the lifting of visa restrictions.
Zimbabweans used to flock┬á┬áto Botswana ‘s┬á┬á Francistown┬á in the past┬á┬á as there is┬á┬á no┬á visa┬á on┬á Zimbabweans┬á entering┬á┬á that┬á country. But prices in Botswana are priced higher compared to South Africa
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has intensified a crackdown on Zimbabweans trying to smuggle goods into Zimbabwe without paying duty tax.
ZIMRA’s Legal and Corporate Services Commissioner, a F Jambwa, said, “Such searches – which are meant to protect fiscal revenue, public health and safety, among others – are more noticeable at border posts because of traffic concentrations,”