Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Zimbabweans and South Africans who had failed to leave either country at the onset of the Covid-19 lockdown are with immediate effect allowed to travel to their countries without going through their embassies.
But the borders are still closed to general travellers in line with Zimbabwe’s lockdown protocols.
Though South Africa re-opened 18 borders to international travel on Thursday, including Beitbridge, Zimbabwe still remains in lockdown.
The assistant regional immigration officer-in-charge of Beitbridge Border Post, Mr Nqobile Ncube said in a memorandum to various stakeholders that the movement of people within borders had been revised to accommodate returning residents.
“With South Africa no longer on lockdown, the requirement for South African nationals in Zimbabwe to seek clearance from the Embassy of South Africa in Harare falls away,” he said.
“With immediate effect, all South African nationals seeking to exit should be allowed out without hindrances. The same applies to holders of South African permanent resident permits and valid time-restricted permits.”
Mr Ncube said Zimbabweans in South Africa no longer need to seek clearance with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in the neighbouring country.
He said they may return to Zimbabwe under the new set-up and that they shall be allowed passage to the country subject to relevant Covid-19 compliances as administered by the Port Health.
Mr Ncube said the facility also covers those with permanent residents permits in Zimbabwe.
“With the repealing of the lockdown restrictions in South Africa, the implication is that Zimbabwean nationals no longer need DIRCO clearance to leave South Africa,” said Mr Ncube.
“This should be read in tandem with the current Covid-19 restrictions which provide for re-entry for Zimbabwean nationals returning home.
“Team leaders should ensure that all personnel get a copy of this memo and implement as such. Members are also reminded that we are still under lockdown and only those indicated categories should be allowed movement.”
Prior to the latest development, the commercial cargo, diplomats on government business and remains for burial were allowed passage across the borders.
Those South Africans or Zimbabweans wishing to return to their homes had to be cleared by their embassies and the host Government respectively.
They were also subject to mandatory Covid-19 screening and quarantining at various centres upon arrival.
A total of 9 331 Zimbabweans returned to the country from Eswatini, South Africa and Lesotho via Beitbridge border post between April and September.