The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Reporter
VENDORS in the cross-border trade have appealed for special permits that enable them to legally cross to South Africa and purchase wares without having to border jump, exposing themselves to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The vendors through the Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) noted that it was disheartening that their colleagues were now resorting to illegal crossing points to go purchase their goods.
“The plight of these women and men who cross to South Africa (Musina) to order goods for re-selling cannot be ignored anymore. A number of Zimbabweans, most of whom are women, have been making a living through buying goods in the neighboring South Africa and reselling them across the region, however due to the lockdown and shutting down of borders, their businesses have since collapsed.
“BVTA is aware and alive to the threat posed by Covid-19 pandemic that necessitated the two Governments to put restrictions and closure of borders in an effort contain its spread.
As an association, we very are pained by what is happening at illegal entry and exit points despite the noble effort to contain the spread of the ravaging virus in two countries,” reads part of a statement from BVTA.
They appealed for the Governments to consider coming up with a Special Pass valid for a few hours that can be issued, allowing informal traders to cross over to buy goods and return within stipulated time frames.
“We are appealing to the Zimbabwean and South African Governments to urgently look into this issue as the plight of people crossing at illegal points poses a danger of spreading the virus and may even expose women to rape, robbery and harassment.
“We also suggest a Special Pass valid for a few hours that can be issued, allowing informal traders to cross over to buy goods and return within stipulated time frames. We pray the Government will take an immediate action to protect the Zimbabwean citizens from a potential and looming disaster from these illegal entries and exit points,” said BVTA.
They further suggested that there be special shops to be designated for informal cross border traders, which will also adhere to Covid-19 protocols.
“BVTA also proposes a controlled movement of people between the two countries whereas immigration authorities can join hands in ensuring that there is smooth and safe crossing, whilst informal cross border traders observe the WHO recommended measures to combat the spread of the virus,” reads the statement.