Thupeyo Muleya in Beitbridge
THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Economic Development has called for speedy implementation of the one-stop border model at Beitbridge Border Post to ease perennial operational challenges at the country’s busiest port of entry.
Under the one-stop border post travellers and cargo will be cleared once for entry or exit in both countries. At present there are duplicating processes at both sides of the border to enter or exit either of the two countries. The parliamentarians, who were on a second phase of a tour to assess border operations country wide, visited Beitbridge Border Post on Monday.
The members said some of the trade facilitation challenges emanated from the several border agencies implementing different policies and programmes to same clients. President Mnangagwa and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa recently agreed on the importance of rolling out the one stop border initiative at Beitbridge, especially.
Committee chairperson, Mr Felix Tapiwa Mhona, said it was critical for Zimbabwe to align border operations in line with the Government’s mantra on the implementation of the ‘ease of doing businesses.’
“If we are to compare operations at Beitbridge and Chirundu port of entry where there is a one-stop border post concept, you will find that if we don’t act with speed in rolling out a similar concept, we won’t be able to address some of the challenges at Beitbridge,” he said in an interview.
“In terms of traffic, we have seen that the numbers actually signify that Beitbridge can be the potential revenue earner among most of our ports of entries. You will appreciate that his Excellency Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is advocating for the ease of doing business, and here people are being searched more than necessary.
“This will not go along well with the ease of doing business mantra that we are pushing as a nation. It is also important that we consolidate our operations and give dignity to our people so that if they are searched at one particular point there will be no need for other stakeholders in terms of security services to continue doing the searches”.
The committee chair also said they had witnessed a number of shortages in terms of human resources at Beitbridge, where some members of staff worked long hours and had no proper accommodation. He said the essence of the tours was for them to ascertain exactly how Parliament can add value in terms of the operations at ports of entry.
The team is on phase two of the programme, which started at Beitbridge on Monday and will also visit Plumtree, Kazungula and Victoria Falls on a similar mission.
“We have been moving around with Zimra leadership to ascertain the operations and issues obtaining on the ground since phase one. Zimra is one of the anchors of revenue generation in the country. As a committee that provides an oversight role it is also important that we must recommend for the budgetary support in terms of Zimra operations,” said Mr Mhona.
He said the committee had noted that a number of illegal activities alleged to be happening through the border post, do not usually happen within the port of entry, but along the rivers.
“Here at Beitbridge we have seen that this happens mainly along the Limpopo River. We have also seen that it is important for the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to be capacitated with the requisite equipment like drones so that they man the border lines where a lot of illegal activities are happening,” said Mr Mhona.
He said although there were numerous reports of corruption at the ports of entry, addressing these would need a multi sectorial approach considering that it involved cartels and syndicates.
The chairman said the parliamentarians were impressed by the work ethic of border workers and that it was important that their challenges were addressed with the urgency they deserved.
“If we expedite our processes in terms of infrastructure development as enshrined in the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) it will yield a lot of impetus on how we can revive the economy of Zimbabwe,” said Mr Mhona.