Zimbabwean police and the country’s army have been deployed in full force in the border town of Beitbridge which has been hit by violent protests over a government decision to limit imports from neighbouring South Africa‚ according to the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.
ZBC reported that a warehouse in Beitbridge owned by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) had been burnt as protests over the ban on imports continued in the border town and across the South African border.
“Three people have since been arrested‚ with the police and army now in full force in the town.
“Shops were closed for the better part of today as residents protested against the ban on imports‚” the state broadcaster said. Meanwhile‚ it said‚ ZIMRA and the Department of Immigration were advising members of the public that contrary to some reports circulating in the social media‚ Beitbridge Border Post had not been closed. “In a statement to ZBC News‚ ZIMRA and the Immigration Department said the border post is operational in spite of the minor disturbances in residential areas of Beitbridge town that have been caused by the implementation of Statutory Instrument (SI) 64 of 2016.”
The limit on imports – which the Zimbabwean government says is aimed at boosting the local economy – also had ramifications on the South African side of the border‚ with a group of South African traders staging a five-hour blockade at the Beitbridge border on Friday. The South African Revenue Service said the protest blockade ran between 9am and 1pm and brought traffic to a halt.
SARS spokesman Sandile Memela said the matter had been resolved when SARS‚ the South African Police Service and Department of Home Affairs officials held negotiations with the leaders of the group.
“The meeting agreed that the grievances of the South African traders will be presented to the Department of Trade & Industry to take up the matter with Zimbabwean authorities.
“SARS wishes to commend South African officials for the speedy resolution of the matter that was occasioned by the attitude of the Zimbabwean authorities.”
Goods are cheaper in South Africa than in Zimbabwe.
Those wanting to bring in even basic goods like peanut butter‚ jam‚ body lotion and shoe polish have to apparently get a permit to do so. They’re being threatened with a hefty fine if they arrive at the border with any of these goods but without a permit.
The situation on the South African side of the border post on Saturday was not immediately known.