BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
GOVERNMENT has been urged to consider reopening the country’s border posts to enhance smooth travel and resumption of cross-border trade ahead of the Christmas festive season.
Zimbabwe’s land borders have been closed since COVID-19 hit the country early last year in a bid to curb the spread of the respiratory virus.
Harare North MP Norman Markham (MDC Alliance) on Wednesday grilled Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi over the issue in the National Assembly, saying it was not necessary to keep the borders closed as COVID-19 cases had gone down.
Markham said most countries in the Sadc region, including neighbouring South Africa, had reopened their borders for trade and travel.
“I stand corrected, but I believe we are the last Sadc country to still consider opening our borders in view of the Christmas holiday. Surely, the issue of the informal sector and the economy must be taken into account,” he said.
Ziyambi said all along, the country’s borders were open for travel, but under strict COVID-19 conditions.
He said the conditions were the same for cross-border, air and road travel.
“Madam Speaker, our borders are open, but there are conditions for entering just like what is happening in all countries across the world. Our citizens can come, but if they do not have a COVID-19 certificate, because you are our citizens, we will quarantine you,” Ziyambi said.
“If you are a foreigner, there are requirements. For citizens, we request that you have a COVID-19 PCR [polymerase chain reaction] test result that is less than 48 before you travelled. That has been the requirement if you want to come to Zimbabwe.
“We had imposed stiffer requirements on those that were coming from India, but we have now relaxed because we noticed that the Delta variant is now prevalent in our population. Our borders are open, but there are certain conditions that we believe must be satisfied upon arrival for you to be allowed entry.”
However, Cross-Borders Traders Association president Killer Zivhu told NewsDay that there were still restrictions for cross-border traders who he said were failing to ply their trade due to the closure of borders.
“The borders are open for commercial travel and those Zimbabweans that are returning from other countries, or those travelling by air. Borders are closed for ordinary people. For some months now, the cross-border traders are wallowing in poverty as they cannot travel across the borders to conduct their business as the ban is still in place,” he said.
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