Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The 336 Zimbabweans who returned home from South Africa in 12 buses via Beitbridge on Sunday, finally proceed with their journey after spending 11 hours at the border as officials consulted other border authorities and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) senior managers in Harare.
The group arrived at the border around 8am on Sunday and was cleared for re-entry by the Department of Immigration, but could not immediately leave because Zimra staff at the border were not yet clearing people travelling by buses.
A member of the border efficiency and management committee confirmed the development and expressed concern over the delay.
“They left the border between 6 and 7 pm on Sunday after consultations among border stakeholders and the Zimra top management in Harare. This was a very unnecessary delay and inconvenience to our fellow Zimbabweans.”
Zimra’s spokesperson, Mr Francis Chimanda, was not reachable yesterday.
Last month, Government said Zimbabweans may now return from South Africa via Beitbridge without having to seek authorisation from the Zimbabwean Embassy or the South African government.
South Africa opened 18 of its 35 land borders to passenger traffic on October 1 and Zimbabwe will gradually open its borders to passenger traffic, mainly motorists in private vehicles and pedestrians.
At the moment, only Zimbabweans based in South Africa and those foreigners with valid residents or workers’ permits are allowed entry into the country, while South Africans and Zimbabweans who are holders of the neighbouring country’s permits are allowed to exit.
Before the lockdown in April, 600 000 travellers would use Beitbridge monthly in both directions.
The figure is likely to increase after December 1 when more people travel considering that it is a transit port for those from Malawi, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania.
Plumtree, Victoria Falls, Chirundu, Nyamapanda, and Forbes are some of the borders, which will be re-opened in a phased manner next month.