South Africa, Zimbabwe Collaborate on Border Management

Officials from both countries exchange best practices and address challenges at Beitbridge border post

by Victor Adetimilehin

South Africa and Zimbabwe have launched a bilateral initiative to enhance border management and security, as well as facilitate trade and travel between the two neighboring countries.


The initiative, which kicked off on Monday, involves a four-day visit by a delegation from Zimbabwe’s Department of Immigration and Border Control to South Africa’s Border Management Authority (BMA).


The BMA, which was established in April 2023, is a single entity that oversees all aspects of border management, including immigration, customs, security, health, and environment.


The Zimbabwean delegation, led by Director-General Godwin Matanga, is in South Africa to learn from the BMA’s model of administration and coordination, as well as to share their own experiences and challenges.


The visit comes amid a recent public spat between the two countries, after South Africa announced that it had intercepted over 400 children who were being trafficked from Zimbabwe. The children have since been returned to their families.


Boosting Trade and Tourism


One of the main objectives of the bilateral initiative is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Beitbridge border post, which is the busiest land port of entry in Africa.


Beitbridge connects South Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as other countries in the region, such as Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, and Malawi.


According to the BMA Commissioner, Dr. Michael Masiapato, the border post handles an average of 25,000 travelers and 500 trucks per day, generating about R300 million ($20 million) in revenue for South Africa.


However, the border post also faces several challenges, such as congestion, delays, corruption, smuggling, and crime.


Based on a report Newsday Zimbabwe, Masiapato said the BMA and its Zimbabwean counterpart are working together to address these issues and to streamline the border processes and procedures.


“We have a collective responsibility to prevent illegal activities at our ports of entry and the border law enforcement areas, such as illegal migration, any kind of smuggling, human trafficking, and all kinds of cross-border crimes,” he said.


He added that the initiative also aims to boost trade and tourism between the two countries, as well as to foster regional economic integration.


Strengthening Bilateral Relations


The initiative also reflects the strong bilateral relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe, which share a common history, culture, and geography.


The two countries are also members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional bloc that promotes cooperation and integration in various sectors, such as trade, infrastructure, energy, and security.


The two presidents, Cyril Ramaphosa and Emmerson Mnangagwa, have expressed their commitment to deepen the ties between their countries and to work together on various issues of mutual interest.


Masiapato said the initiative is a manifestation of that commitment and a demonstration of the spirit of solidarity and friendship between the two nations.


He said the initiative is also an opportunity to learn from each other and to exchange best practices and ideas on how to improve border management and security.


“We are committed to sharing our lessons on our journey of 15 years towards the establishment of the South African Border Management Authority. We do believe that moving away from a multi-agency approach as far as border management is concerned into an integrated border management model with a single command and control is the key step towards effective border management,” he said.


He also expressed his appreciation to the Zimbabwean delegation for their visit and their willingness to collaborate with the BMA.


“We are looking forward to a fruitful engagement and a productive outcome that will benefit both our countries and our people,” he said.


The initiative is expected to result in a memorandum of understanding between the two border authorities, as well as a joint action plan to implement the agreed recommendations and actions.


The initiative is also expected to pave the way for more cooperation and dialogue between the two countries on border management and security, as well as other areas of mutual interest.

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