Complete border shutdown looms

HARARE - With local and regional small traders and transporters planning to shut down all of the country’s borders from Monday next week onwards, unless the government lifts its controversial imports ban, Zimbabwe could be plunged into unprecedented chaos — including suffering debilitating shortages of food and other basic goods.

This latest dose of bad news for the country comes as President Robert Mugabe’s government is facing myriad crises, including a dying economy, worsening cash shortages, rising poverty and unemployment levels and growing citizen unrest — all widely blamed on Zanu PF’s misrule of the past 36 years.

The threat by southern African small traders and transporters to paralyse Zimbabwe’s borders from Monday also comes as Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha was yesterday scheduled to meet his unhappy South African counterpart, Rob Davies, to try and thrash out a compromise on the controversial imports ban which has soured relations between the two countries.

If the country’s borders are shut down next week, this will also seriously affect traffic to and from Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo — all of whom rely heavily on the Zimbabwe trade gateway to South Africa for their economic livelihoods.

The organisers of the planned shutdown of the country’s borders told the Daily News yesterday that they had already advised all relevant parties, including operators of regional bus termini such as Zimbabwe’s Roadport, Park Station in Johannesburg and those in Lusaka of their looming action.

They also claimed that important stakeholders such as the International Cross Border Traders Association had all come out in support of the traders and transporters’ mooted industrial action.

“From August 8, 2016 we will close down all commercial activities at all of Zimbabwe’s borders. Please stay home until further notice. We demand that the government of Zimbabwe abolishes Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 which bans imports into Zimbabwe.

“We also want to send a message to the other countries in the region such as Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia that there is not going to be any business during this shutdown.

“All neighbouring countries are aware of this stay-away. As a result, shops and customs clearance operations will be closed in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania starting from Monday August 8, 2016 until further notice,” one of the co-ordinators of the event, Joseph Chanakira, said.

He emphasised that the organisers of the shutdown also wanted to send “a clear and powerful message” to all Sadc countries that Zimbabwe had flouted regional trade protocols when it imposed the imports ban.

“We want the matter to be on the Sadc’s agenda. We are anxious to let them know that we the people have spoken against this ban, contrary to what Zimbabwean authorities are telling them,” Chanakira told the Daily News.

The government imposed a ban on the importation of a number of basic consumer goods in June, saying this was an endeavour to not only reduce imports in the wake of worsening cash shortages, but also to stimulate local industry.

But the decision backfired spectacularly when deadly riots paralysed operations at Beitbridge Border Post early in July, with protesters burning a Zimra warehouse in the process.

Under Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016, the government banned the importation of coffee creamers, Camphor creams, white petroleum jellies, body creams, baked beans, potato crisps, cereals, bottled water, mayonnaise, salad cream, peanut butter, jam, maheu, canned fruits and vegetables, pizza bases, yoghurts, flavoured milk, dairy juice blends, ice-creams, cultured milk and cheese, among other products.

South Africa, through its Department of Trade and Industry (dti), has formally expressed grave concern over the imports ban and has been seeking a meeting with Bimha to iron out problems.

This comes as it was confirmed last week that the South African government was seething over the imports ban, which Pretoria says is unfair and transgresses Sadc’s regional trade protocols, the same argument that the small traders are using in their appeal to the regional bloc.

Former Vice President and now Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) leader, Joice Mujuru, has also since filed a lawsuit against the government over the controversial imports ban, which some street vendors have described as “stupid”.

She has said by requiring a permit for the importation of basic goods, the government had to all intents and purposes banned the importation of those goods by the poor, as they could neither afford the permits nor find it easy to access the permits.

Mugabe is facing growing dissent and opposition to his long rule which his critics say has driven Zimbabweans into abject poverty as a result of his catastrophic policies.

His ruling Zanu PF is also accused of turning the once prosperous country into a much-derided basket case, resulting in food deficits, high unemployment, job losses and company closures.

On Wednesday, thousands of unhappy Zimbabweans including unemployed graduates, staged peaceful protests in Harare against the government’s imminent plans to introduce bond notes, which are now also a subject of a lawsuit by Mujuru.

Comments (14)

The proposed complete border shut down is a strategy to bring SADC member countries under direct European control. Unless Zimbabweans wake up now and take full charge of our economy from policy formulation to implementation, our country and SADC is under threat from renewed modern imperialism. Cecil John Rhodes is ruling from Matopos. #Rhodes must go!!

ADF - 5 August 2016

Our supposed leaders are getting fatter and fatter ANIMAL FARM style while the holi poloi suffer. Having benefited from the Demob pay, multiple farm ownerships, indigenisation programmes, DRC WAR contracts, Mozambican ivory trade and corruption, they have no regard for the suffering masses. As the economy sinks deeper they grow richer and richer building 50 bedroomed mansions - just consider the cost of maintaining such a household and you will see that these people are in their own world. If they introduce bond notes as they plan to do they will be able to exchange their notes at one to one while the rest of us pay 50 bonds to one US dollar. Cry the beloved country! Asi vakuru vakati chisingaperi chinoshura, chinobhururuka chinomhara.

Viva Unidade - 5 August 2016

ZANU PF thugs are running away from logical thinking. In fact they think with their feet and walk on their heads, so their brains are badly bruised. ZANU PF thugs are a disgrace to humanity. They should however realize that the endgame will finish them all. Yes, I mean finish them all soon.

Zvichapera - 5 August 2016

that border was open even during apartheid and UDI which were illegal govts,who are these idiots who want to shut down a border in an era of free movement of human beings,their western leanings are there fo all to see as going to the border is a reminder that their european masters drew those borders,u cannot inconvinience the whole SADC region which depends on beitbridge just to advance some narrow political objective,the people must defy these thugs and continue with their lives,that they speak of 'crossfire' is an indication of their violent tendencies

truth - 5 August 2016

KUFURIRWA KUVHARA BORDER NEMBITI YAKAWANDA KU SOUTH AFRICA. GARA IWEWE MUMU KUKU IMOMO ISU TISHANDIRE MHURI DZEDU

JOHNS MAPFUMO NYASHA - 5 August 2016

For a once and for all solution to all our problems https(dot)(backslashbackslash)facebook(dot)com(backslash)Avenue 4@tanetasesidiniweexhausted.

Paradzai Nyahasha - 5 August 2016

Shame on you @truth

Slim Cat - 5 August 2016

Who is this Chanakira. He advocates Zimbabwe continue being a south african tuckshop. South Africa should not be allowed to meddle in Zimbabwe politics. Chanakira is insane

jason mpala - 5 August 2016

What else is not an advancement of imperial agenda Mr ADF?? Everything according to your party is to be blamed on the West. even Zimbabweans who doesn't like a particular law, its Western mentality

ZIGGY ZIGAWO - 5 August 2016

Gone are the old days when the young Bob Mugabe used to receive a standing ovations wherever he went. Zvapera. After giving the dictator a standing ovation the African leaders went on to introduce democratic reforms in their countries, leadership renewal (refer to Mozambique / Zambia), sound economic policies. Now their countries are shining while ours is burning. Sorry Bob everybody and his neighbour whether rural or urban knows about your disastrous policies. Hatichada! Hatichatya! We are re-taking our country back from you.

Tekere - 5 August 2016

These people are being unreasonable. How can you demand to import some thing that is already being made in Zimbabwe. Well, our industries will never grow and you will always be cross boarder traders.

anri3v - 6 August 2016

The idea that we, as educated as we are, are unable to make our own decisions and actions unless the WEST or other outside forces pay us is appalling. We've been silent for too long, they mistook our silence for weakness manje zvakwana hatichada. I used to be a ZANU PF supporter thinking the devil you now is better right? Wrong!

Mwanawevhu - 6 August 2016

I KNOW THE EUROPEANS DID NOT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS JUST SHOWS YOU HOW STUPID YOU ALL ARE...THE END IS NEAR MAD BOB !!!!

suziq - 7 August 2016

mugabe idhoti

asamowa - 12 August 2016

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