Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Zimbabwe, South Africa Border Blockade Fails

Thupeyo Muleya

Herald Beitbridge Bureau

Organisers of a two-day demonstration that sought to block commercial traffic from entering and leaving South Africa through Beitbridge Border Post were left eating the dust from the cargo trucks driving over the bridges when the planned protest failed.

This is the second time in recent weeks that the demonstration has failed.

Some pressure groups led by Judah Hossana, leader of an organisation known as the Smoke that Thunders, have in the last six weeks been threatening to bring business to a standstill.

It is understood that the demonstrations were part of plan B for those who failed to organise a similar event in Zimbabwe on 31 July.

Sources in South Africa yesterday said Hossana and his few supporters tried in vain to get to the border as the police in that country were in an uncompromising mood.

“The group of fewer than 30 people tried to march to the border and were stopped by the police enforcing Covid-19 protocols and anti-smuggling operations some 10km from the Beitbridge Border Gate.

“To save face, Hossana and his people went to a church in Matswale suburb in Musina where they tried to lure some African refugees to join in but failed to find any takers.

“They then started picketing carrying placards denouncing the Zimbabwean Government before dispersing,” said the official.

Limpopo police spokesperson, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo was not available for comment yesterday.

According to another official, Hossana and crew tried twice to get to the N1 highway without success between Thursday and Friday.

“They left a frustrated lot,” said the source.

Police officer commanding Beitbridge, Chief Superintendent Tichaona Nyongo said Zimbabwean police were fully prepared for any spillover of the demo to the Zimbabwean side.

“According to information on the ground, the planned demonstrations flopped in South Africa. So we don’t expect any spillover. Though these people had promised to carry out their mission across the border, we are not taking any chances. We are ready for any spillover and we will continue enforcing the laws of the land,” said Chief Supt Nyongo.

Zimbabwe is one of South Africa’s largest trading partners in Sadc with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority saying the Beitbridge border post contributes over 31 percent of the total customs revenue.

In August, another demonstration flopped after people failed to show up at the selected pick-up points in Johannesburg, from where they were supposed to be bused to Beitbridge.

Last year the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) also hit a brick wall after their request to protest inside the border area was turned down by security authorities from both countries.

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