Zimbabwe: Informal Traders Lobby for the Re-Opening of Borders

Beitbridge border crossing.

Informal traders have appealed to the Government to reopen border posts for members in the sector under strict regulations.

Informal traders who depend on buying goods from South Africa and Botswana to sell locally have been seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen countries closing borders to contain the spread of the virus.

Informal traders believe that reopening borders will reduce cases of smuggling and the spread of the virus between countries.

The call follows the easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions by President Mnangagwa last Monday which also saw the re-opening of the informal sector.

The president of the Zimbabwe Cross-Border Traders Association Mr Killer Zivhu said the continued closure of borders would severely affect the livelihoods of his members who, he says, constitute 80 percent of the population.

"We are concerned that the border is still closed, and particularly it will affect the livelihoods of cross-border traders. They are still affected. What it means is that people will continue to use the illegal ways to buy goods and smuggle them from other countries.

"These people who cross illegally are not tested for Covid-19 and they will end up bringing the virus into the country. We call upon the authorities to put mechanisms that will ensure that the borders re-open so that people can come in and get tested," he said.

Mr Zivhu said that as water levels decrease in the Limpopo river, Zimbabweans will be illegally cross borders to South Africa and risking their lives

"If water levels decrease in the Limpopo river, Zimbabweans will illegally cross the border without Covid-19 testing certificates leading to the spread of the virus."

"We call on the Government to urgently address this issue, as the plight of people crossing illegal checkpoints poses a risk of spreading the virus," said Mr Zivhu.

The country Zimbabwe closed its borders to general human traffic in January as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 following a spike in cases.

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