(Last Updated on January 8, 2021 by GERALD NCUBE)
HARARE – The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information Nick Mangwana has said there is no humanitarian crisis at the Beitbridge border post despite various reports accompanied with pictures and videos showing large gatherings of Zimbabweans struggling to cross the border into neighbouring South Africa.
“There is no humanitarian crisis playing out at Beitbridge. What happened is that when Zimbabwe that it was going to lockdown and there were two days, one was the 3rd of January 2021 and the second one was the 5th of January.
“South Africans based their issues on the 3rd and immediately went into curfew so it means they were closing the borders at 6 o’clock in the evening. But at the same time, some Zimbabweans based in South Africa, some for 10 years had come to Zimbabwe to spend time with their families as per custom decided that they wanted to go back as quickly as possible before the lockdown. So there was a surge of people going back to South Africa yet the border which for some time now, for a week or so moved to almost 24 hour opening time.
“So people were cleared from the Zimbabwean side and when they got to the South African side, the South African side said we have closed and those people were in no man’s land for a while and slept there. But still, large numbers of Zimbabweans who were returning were coming in and we had a backlog of 48 hours roughly were some Zimbabweans were there for 2 days which is a tragic situation but because of the lockdown created on the South African side.
“Now that issue was cleared and by 3 o’clock on Tuesday the 5th, the backlog was gone and up to this point, there is no backlog. Right now the only Zimbabweans that are going to South Africa are those with work permits. Even from the Zimbabwean side, you cannot cross to South Africa if you are not a holder of a South African work permit so those numbers have receded so much and there is no crisis there,” he added
Mangwana also said some of the videos circulating were old from Sunday and Monday claiming to be current.
On the cost of acquiring a passport in the country, Mangwana said the US$318 was for an emergency passport for those in the diaspora while claiming that for an ordinary passport the cost was around the equivalent of US$40.