SOUTH Africa’s Department of Home Affairs yesterday expressed shock at the low number of Zimbabweans who crossed the Beitbridge Border Post in northern Limpopo province in the past few days to participate in yesterday’s general election.
An estimated three million Zimbabweans are believed to be in South Africa and most of them were expected to go home to vote in their country’s historic elections.
Beitbridge is the main port of entry and departure after Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport and during the peak travel periods, especially during the Christmas holidays, more than 20 000 travellers are processed daily at Beitbridge.
Zimbabwean businessperson Clever Dube, who currently lives in South Africa, was stationed at the Beitbridge border post to see if his fellow countrymen were really going home to vote. He said people were afraid of losing their jobs just to go and vote for a government they were not sure would fix the economy.
“People are afraid to leave whatever they are doing, rushing for a vote; they might lose whatever that they are doing in terms of jobs.”
Dube, a former freedom fighter and soldier in Zimbabwe, said allegations that former president Robert Mugabe and his supporters had formed a new party, the National Patriotic Front and that Mugabe was financially supporting opposition party campaigns, made some Zimbabweans despondent to go and vote.
Home Affairs Department director for ports of entries, Stephen van Neel, said the department was surprised by the low number of Zimbabweans going home to vote.
“We are completely surprised because the number of travellers going through Beitbridge is quite low. I mean when we look at the numbers of people who travelled through the port on Thursday and Friday, we had actually less than the number of people we normally get during the week compared with last Wednesday and Tuesday. It is lower numbers. That is the same as any other day that few people move through the port into Zimbabwe to go and vote.”