BY SYDNEY KAWADZA
The government has deployed a crack team from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police Criminal Investigation Department to Beitbridge amid reports that corruption was at the core of the congestion and delays at the border post.
Sources on Friday revealed that government had identified corruption as the major challenge emerging after the introduction of toll fees at one of southern Africa’s busiest border control post.
The toll fees are pegged at US$200 and US$340 respectively for small trucks and abnormal trucks.
The South Africa government expressed frustration over congestion and delays at the Beitbridge border post with the country’s Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi piling blame on Zimbabwean authorities.
Zimra acting commissioner general Rameck Masaire confirmed that the authority had deployed senior officers to the Beitbridge border post as the situation threatened to deteriorate further.
Speaking to The Standard on Friday, a source said government was concerned about the deteriorating situation at the border post where a long queue of commercial trucks is growing on the South African side of the entry point.
“Government has come up with various interventions to correct the situation in Beitbridge and one of these, which is also the major intervention is the resolution to stem corruption at the border post,” the source said.
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“They are deploying as of (yesterday) a crack team of investigators who are solely targeting corrupt border officials because it has since been discovered that all the problems there are related to corruption.”
The problems at the border post, the source said, are all linked and related to corruption.
“Customs and other border officials are demanding cash and bribes, leading to a serious scourge of corruption, so there is a team landing in Beitbridge this weekend and its targeting corruption as a major threat to stability at the post,” he said.
In an interview, Masaire said while some of the challenges being faced at the border post were linked to the upgrades to the entry point, the congestion was tarnishing Zimbabwe’s name.
“It’s not giving a good image of our country, it’s not giving a good image of our organisation and it’s not good for business, so the sooner it ends the better,” he said.
“Representation at the highest level within the organisation is paying attention.
“We are expecting board members to visit Beitbridge so that the problem can be fixed once and for all.”
Zimra has partnered Zimborders Consortium to undertake the US$300 million Beitbridge modernisation project that will see new terminal building being constructed.
Truckers are spending several days at the border owing to attendant delays resulting in new processing procedures being introduced by Zimbabwean authorities last Wednesday.
However, Masaire said some of the problems at the border was linked to the upgrades leading to some change over glitches.
“Infrastructure for the freight terminal is now ready for use and there has been a change-over with effect from October 6, 2021, where there has been movement of operations from the current premises into the new premises that has been recently developed.
“In that process, change-over glitches have been experienced and that is where we are focused as all stakeholders who use the facilities,” he said.
“There was also a challenge of preparedness by all stakeholders even the systems to the changes leading to the traffic pile up.”
Motsoaledi described the new measures introduced by Zimbabwean authorities such as demanding United States dollar toll fees in cash without engaging their South African counterparts as a mockery.
He also claimed construction work on the Zimbabwe side has destroyed parking space.