SA passes law to streamline border ops
Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
SOUTH Africa’s Parliament last week passed the Border Management Authority Bill, which seeks to streamline operations at its port of entry, as well as enhance efficiency.
The development comes a few weeks after Pretoria undertook to modernise some of its ports of entry, among them Beitbridge where the One-Stop-Border-Post (OSBP) concept is set to be jointly implemented with Zimbabwe.
The Herald understands that streamlining operations at Beitbridge and upgrading infrastructure is one of the major ingredients to the successful implementation of the OSBP.
Under the model, people and trucks will be processed by both countries under one roof. Currently, people and cargo have to go through duplicate processes to enter either country.
An average of 14 000 people use Zimbabwe and South Africa’s border post daily. In a statement, South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said: “The BMA Bill is long overdue. I welcome the passing of the Bill by the National Assembly.
“The BMA will enable the country to manage its borders in a manner that facilitates trade and plugs holes in our porous borders. These porous borders lead to, amongst other things, illegal crossing of people, illicit goods, drugs, trafficking of people, particularly of women and children and stolen vehicles.”
Dr Motsoaledi said the authority would help simplify the management of border posts or official gates of entry, as it will streamline the red tape at the border posts by establishing one command structure covering the responsibilities of up to eight different government agencies, which are currently operating in the border environment.
He said the Department of Home Affairs had been preparing for the implementation of the BMA through the Project Management Office.
“This Project Management Office has been working with other government departments and agencies to ensure its speedy implementation,” he said.
Zimbabwe is also finalising plans to operationalise the National Ports Authority, which will manage all the country’s ports of entry and will fall under Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development.
According to Government sources, the authority is now at the drafting stage at the Attorney General’s office.
Such a port authority will deal with operations, administrative, security and health, among other issues.
Some of the stakeholders at the border posts include Department of Immigration, insurance companies, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, police and the army (with varied branches), Prisons and Air Force.
Ministries of Health and Child Care, Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement and Transport and Infrastructural Development, the Environmental Management Agency, Forestry Commission and Veterinary Services among the institutions at the border post.
In most cases, people are finding it difficult to raise issues of concern in a set up where there is no one in charge or any authority superintending operations.
It is also believed that the authority will attend to among other issues, the expansion and upgrading of the border infrastructure and also put systems in place, which would make Zimbabwe the best trade partner.
The availability of key infrastructure at Beitbridge is key to the successful implementation of the one-stop border initiative with South Africa.