Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The formal legal notice was gazetted yesterday reopening Zimbabwe’s border posts today to private motorists and pedestrians, so long as those wishing to enter Zimbabwe have a certificate issued in the previous 48 hours certifying they are free of Covid-19 and in addition show no symptoms of the disease.
Immigration, tax and health officials have been readying border posts for the change, and more staff has been deployed.
So all is now set for the reopening of land border posts with effect from today, under strict health and safety measures aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19.
Zimbabwe has five major border posts at Beitbridge, Plumtree, Chirundu, Victoria Falls and Forbes, but attention will be on Beitbridge, which carries the bulk of the vehicle and human traffic.
Health and Child Care Minister Vice President Constantino Chiwenga gazetted the Statutory Instrument yesterday aimed at giving legal effect to the reopening of borders and the regulations spelling out the conditions to be met.
“With effect from the 1st December, 2020, all of the ports of entry or ports of exit between Zimbabwe and a neighbouring country or territory shall be opened, with the effect that the entry or exit of goods and of persons through such port or ports shall be permitted subject to the restrictions contained in this order and to the following additional restrictions in respect of persons entering Zimbabwe who are not citizens or returning residents, namely that such persons must, at the port of entry, exhibit a Covid-19 free certificate issued not earlier than the previous 48 hours and not present with symptoms of Covid,” read the regulations.
Persons showing symptoms will not be allowed entry notwithstanding that they might be holding a Covid-19 free certificate.
The regulations direct that persons allowed in must observe all other regulations and laws related to Covid-19 such as opening of business and observance of curfew hours.
More staff have been deployed to border posts to cater for an expected surge in numbers of people coming into the country.
Last week, officials from the Ministry of Health and Child Care were testing officials at border posts for Covid-19 to ensure all workers were fit for duty and a new standard operating procedure had been drawn up to guide the handling of travellers under the new normal.
The preparations come after Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe met his South African counterpart, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi in Beitbridge last Friday to ensure procedures on both sides of Zimbabwe’s busiest border post were harmonised before the re-opening today.
Buses follow in the first quarter of next year after assessments and in light of required Covid-19 preventive measures. Beitbridge used to clear seven million travellers a year before the Covid-19 restrictions.
Cabinet made a decision recently approving the re-opening of the land borders to human traffic, starting with private motorists and pedestrians, but with those using public transport to join in at some stage in the first quarter of next year.
Adequate protective clothing and equipment for immigration officers to cover the anticipated traffic has been acquired.
All immigration officers will be on duty from today and all leave days and off days have been cancelled until the peak period is over.