Zimbabweans based in neighbouring South Africa are excited about the imminent opening of the Beitbridge border post. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently announced foreigners can travel into and out of his country for business, leisure and other travel with effect from October 1, 2020.The news has come as sweet music to the ears of most people from Zimbabwe resident in southern Africa’s biggest economy who are estimated to number between 1,5 million and 3 million.
Zimbabweans in South Africa have welcomed with open arms the imminent reopening of the border by their host country.“We urge those who have expiring or expired passports to use this time to courier their forms to the registry offices back in Zimbabwe,” said. Bongani Mazwi Mkhwananzi, spokesperson of Zimbabwe Community in South Africa.He added that his organisation is in discussion with the Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa to facilitate the processing of passports and birth certificates applications.“Many people are struggling to book appointments and repeatedly find the system fully booked. The consulate has confirmed that the system works, but due to Covid-19 restrictions, they can only take a maximum of 75 clients per day at this point, thus due to demand, the booking limits get reached quickly,” he said.Mkhwananzi further said they were also engaging South African Home Affairs not to deport Zimbabweans without proper papers.“We are engaging the department of Home Affairs to ensure and uphold the announcement that was made by the Home Affairs minister – not to penalise those whose visas expired during the lockdown. Border officials should also not penalise them,” he said.
Most people have expressed on social media their excitement at being able to return back home after being locked up in a foreign land. Some had simply travelled for holiday and found themselves tied up in the deadlock brought about by the covid 19 pamdemic. Likewise, traders whose business had come to a standstill have expressed their joy at being able to trade again.