Shipping and other cross-border activities at Beitbridge slumped yesterday as most people heeded the call to avoid Zimbabwe’s border posts while in Musina 6 000 protesters were dispersed by police and army after gathering to hold demonstrations.
Both border posts were deserted in the morning with Customs officials handling people that arrived late in the border post on Saturday while there was little activity on the commercial side of Customs.
A representative of the International Cross Border Associations who organised the demonstration Dennis Juru said they were happy with the response from Zimbabweans.
“We are happy, South African shipping companies heeded our call, there were no buses from South Africa or Harare and limited activity in the commercial Customs offices of both countries,” said Juru.
He said police in South Africa dispersed more than 6 000 protesters in Musina but they later regrouped and held meetings to strategise their demonstrations.
Juru said the protests are to press the Zimbabwean government to revoke its recently introduced Statutory Instrument 64/2016 restricting importation of 121 types of goods deemed available in Zimbabwe.
He said SI 64 had pushed Zimbabweans deeper into poverty since most survived on buying and selling after the closure of industries in Zimbabwe.
“These disruptions will be intermittent, we will continue today and South Africans are ready to help us,” said Juru.
“We are having, Tajamuka, Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, Africa Diaspora Workers Network and Zimbabwe Communist Group working in solidarity with us,” he said.
All shipping houses on the South African side of the border were closed with no haulage truck business being processed for Zimbabwe.
Shipping agents on the Zimbabwean side had skeletal staff as most people stayed at home.
There was a hive of activity for about two hours in the morning when thousands of pilgrimages from the Zionist Church of Christ (ZCC) returning from church meetings in Zimbabwe swarmed the border post.
Soon after their departure there was very little activity inside the border.
“There are very few people travelling there us low movement,” a Zimbabwean immigration officer said.
“We briefly got busy when pilgrims from ZCC arrived but the border went quiet again,” said the officer.
Armed police and other security agents from both South Africa patrolled the old bridge linking the two countries where a handful of pedestrians moved between the two borders.
A transport broker at Beitbridge said most haulage truck operators were keen to have their vehicles leave the South African side of Beitbridge to Zimbabwe.
“They were afraid that the demonstration might be ugly and property destroyed,” said the transport broker.