Gabriel Shumba, head of the South Africa-based Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) is leading the mobilisation of civil activists to picket and shut down commercial activities at Zimbabwe’s borders from Monday next week
In a video message, Shumba said: “From Monday, 8 August, 2016, we will all be protesting at all of Zimbabwe’s borders. Please stay home until further notice”.
“We demand that the government of Zimbabwe abolishes Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 which bans imports into Zimbabwe. We demand that beds, wardrobes, kitchen units, cooking oil, building materials, clothes, and other basic commodities must enter Zimbabwe without hindrance,” said Shumba.
He called on solidarity organisations in the region shun the borders or join the shutdown.
Promulgation of the statutory instrument recently torched protests in the border town of Beitbridge that connects with South Africa as unemployed citizens who depend on informal trade shut down the port.
Shumba said that ordinary citizens were being discriminated against as government officials linked to a Zanu PF faction, Generation 40 (G40) were still being allowed to import the banned goods for their “own gratification”.
He said the import ban sought to starve ordinary citizens as the elite’s families benefited.
In a another statement, organizers of the planned border shut down urged churches, informal trade associations and civic groups to advise their members to remain at home.
“All neighbouring countries to Zimbabwe are aware of this stay away. Shops and customs clearance will be closed in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Tanzania, (and others) starting from Monday,” wrote the activists.
It could not be independently confirmed if the neighbouring authorities had been informed of the shutdown or how they were planning to deal with the protests that are likely to cause massive losses in business if they go ahead.
The activists said busy pickup points like Roadport and George Silundika (Harare) and Parkstation in Johannesburg would grind to a halt.
A group called the International Cross-Border Traders Association has reportedly urged traders to avoid the borders.