Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA) is very disturbed and touched in light of the video circulating on social media of informal cross border traders walking in a single file, giving testimonies on their situation, after being rounded by members of the armed forces in South Africa patrolling the border.
The plight of these women and men who cross to South Africa (Musina) to order goods for re-selling cannot be ignored anymore.
According to the African Development Bank (2020), 65 percent of Zimbabwe’s 14 million population now rely on the informal sector to survive. About three million 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.
(1) We are calling for a Special Arrangement for informal cross traders to go and order goods for re-sale as seen in that video, their situation is dire and some are sick and are reporting that they cannot even access medication in the country.
(2)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 among viles that happen in these areas.
(3)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.
(4)We are also proposing for special shops to be designated for informal cross border traders, which will also adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
(5)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 entry and exit points.
Watch the video below (Video Credit – Ezra Tshisa Sibanda)
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