BEITBRIDGE East legislator Albert Nguluvhe has appealed to the Zimbabwean and South African governments to re-introduce passes for villagers to visit relatives across either sides of the border.
By Rex Mphisa
Speaking to journalists during a tour of the Beitbridge Border Post by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services, Nguluvhe said the two governments could also consider establishment of informal crossing-points so that hustles with long-distance travellers at official crossing points are avoided.
“People of Beitbridge have relatives just across the river, but it’s painful that they have to come to the border post to cross and visit relatives just across,” he said.
“A way should be found. There should be a bilateral agreement between our countries to re-look the issue, re-introduce passes and informal crossing points for easy passage of locals visiting relatives.”
Ethnic Venda, Sotho and Tshangani tribes, the indigenous people of the Limpopo Valley, situated between the two countries, dominate the rural population along the 350 kilometre-stretch of the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
There is only one border post between the two countries and usually it is overwhelmed by travellers and goods.
The same border post services the entire Sadc region and at peak periods accounts for 18 000 people a day, 3 000 heavy vehicles, and 5 000 smaller cars.
Currently, the border post is being upgraded.
In the past, the two countries had informal crossing-point facility for locals, but this was abandoned after it was subjected to abuse.
Nguluvhe felt the system could be fine-tuned so that it is supported by regular patrols by security services.
“If management of the police and military are adequately equipped with vehicles, they can patrol and the system can be reintroduced,” he said.
The parliamentary committee, chaired by Levi Mayihlome, was also taken to the Zimbabwe security forces tent where reports of harassment of people had been made.
Nguluvhe requested the Zimbabwe National Army and police to deploy personnel conversant with local languages to make communication with locals easier.