Ramaphosa bowled over by immaculate Beit Bridge…South Africa to copy President Mnangagwa’s works

SOUTH Africa is learning from Zimbabwe on how to modernise its border infrastructure to improve the movement of people, goods and services as has been enabled by President Mnangagwa’s refurbishment of the Beitbridge Border Post.

This comes as the region is moving towards integrating border management activities as part of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), which inter-alia seeks to eradicate various forms of red tape hindering trade, investment and the movement of persons.

On that front, Zimbabwe has been a pacesetter in the region, especially through the US$300 million refurbishment of the Beitbridge Border Post which was once reviled for its bottlenecks and notorious delays that bled businesses. But that unflattering tag has been shaken off and the critical border post, which services Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, is now the most efficient on the African continent.

With that being the case, the ball is in the court of South Africa to ensure that from both sides of Limpopo, there is harmony in terms of border operations, particularly at the busiest port of entry in Africa.

Yesterday President Mnangagwa met his South African counterpart President Cyril Ramaphosa, first on the South African side and then later at the Zimbabwean side for a familiarisation tour that President Mnangagwa said should be the norm to enhance people-to-people relations between the two countries, separated by the Limpopo River. “Me and my dear brother President Ramaphosa met in New York (United States) and we had a family chat and in that chat, my brother told me he was coming to this place on October 5 and he was going to inspect this side of the border.

“I then said I think it’s an opportunity for us to meet because there is only the river between him and me, why don’t I also come on the same day. I come to your side, look at your side and then we go across and we can look at my side. If the two of us continuously meet and chat why should not our people at the border have the same relationship?

“What we can see here and what you are going to see on the Zimbabwe side, we want these two units or entities to talk to each other as good as the two Presidents talk to each other,” said President Mnangagwa.

An upwards of 15 000 people cross the Limpopo River daily alongside more than 500 trucks as part of trade between Zimbabwe and one of her biggest trading partners, South Africa.

In an interview after the reciprocal tour of the Beitbridge Border Post, President Ramaphosa said South Africa will soon start revamping its side of the border. “My elder wanted me to come and see what he has done on the Zimbabwean side and I have just now seen the improvements, the build-up of the infrastructure for border control on the Zimbabwean side. I have been a little bit of an underperformer because my elder brother has done much better and I have come here to learn, to see exactly what we need to do on the South African side in order to enhance relations at a political and people-to-people level.

“We have got to modernise our movement, people movement, and infrastructure, so we have come here to see how best we can copy what Zimbabwe has done with a view to matching them so that we have a similar way of enabling our people, our goods, to move between the two countries across our common heritage, which is the Limpopo River,” said President Ramaphosa.

On the Zimbabwean side, crossing time has been significantly reduced after buses, light vehicles and trucks, that were previously lumped together, were separated, with each stream having its own terminal and supporting infrastructure. As a result, many countries, South Africa included, are keen on emulating the Zimbabwean model.

The two Presidents were accompanied by ministers from their respective governments, senior government officials and businesspeople.


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