The Department of Immigration has advised the Government to consider formalising two proposed borders with South Africa to relieve pressure on Beitbridge and curb irregular migration and smuggling along the border’s flanks.
Beitbridge is the only land border with South Africa and two more tourism borders have been proposed at Shashe (120km west of Beitbridge town) and at Tshituripasi some 125km east of the border town.
One house (for immigration officials) and a road have been constructed at Shashe, while a road has been constructed and land for housing has been cleared at Tshituripasi.
Shashe was created in 2007 to facilitate groups of tourists during the Wildrun and the Tour de Tuli that are held annually.
Tour de Tuli attracts 500 visitors, while Wildrun attracts 80, all from across the globe and the events are usually held three months apart.
Assistant Regional Immigration Officer-in-Charge of Beitbridge, Mr Nqobile Ncube, made the call during a recent visit by parliamentarians from the committee on Defence, Security and Home Affairs.
He said though the sites were identified a decade ago and initial bilateral engagements had been done, nothing much had happened on the ground.
Mr Ncube said the borders should be set up in the mould of Maitengwe, Mpoengs and Mlambapele, which Zimbabwe share with Botswana.
He said the creation of such ports that can be manned by a few officers will help to reduce smuggling and irregular migration (border jumping).
“We are concerned with cases of illegal crossing on the flanks of the legal border (Beitbridge),” said Mr Ncube. “Such a scenario is not good in terms of security and the country being able to collect revenue through imports/exports which are leaking via the many non-formal entry/exit points.”
Mr Ncube said in some instances, those living along the border areas did not see the need to travel for more than 100km or 200km to gain legal access to a place, which is just across the river.
He said such a reality could not be overlooked, hence the need to formalise the already existing points, which can open on specified times to cater for all those travelling on family or tourism-related business in those areas.
The two borders, he said, will help boost arrivals of tourists, with the Shashe point catering for people visiting the Greater Mapungubwe Trans-frontier conservation area which coversBotswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe (west of Beitbridge).
“The Tshituripasi border will take locals, traffic to other western parts of Zimbabwe and to the Greater Limpopo Trans-frontier Conservation Area, which involves Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe,” said Mr Ncube.
“We have had to use these borders during major annual tourism events, albeit on a temporary basis and that has been done successfully. We have seen it, we can manage. This will be a relief to Beitbridge, which clears half a million people every month.”