Business at the Beitbridge Border Post, a hub of regional trade, has slumped in the wake of a call to shut down all of landlocked Zimbabwe’s ports in protest against a recent government ban on selected imports.
Gabriel Shumba, a South Africa-based advocate and head of the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) late last week circulated a video in which he called for Zimbabweans to shun the border ports.
Reports from Beitbridge indicate that shipping and cross-border activities have been severely affected as people heeded the call for the shutdown starting Monday.
Police and army details had to disperse thousands of protesters from the South African border town of Musina demonstrating against Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 that has banned a long list of imported goods that include creamers, oils and building materials.
By Tuesday morning, the Musina and Beitbridge posts were largely deserted.
Dennis Juru, a spokesperson for The International Cross Border Associations which was part of the organisers of the shutdown said South African businesses heeded their call.
“We are happy, South African shipping companies heeded our call. There were no buses from South Africa or Harare and limited activity in the commercial customs offices of both countries,” said Juru.
He added that civil disobedience against SI 64 would continue on Wednesday.
“These disruptions will be intermittent. We will continue today (Wednesday) and South Africans are ready to help us.
Several other protest groups are part of border shutdown campaign, among them Tajamuka, which in July helped mobilise thousands of Zimbabweans to protest against President Robert Mugabe’s government, the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF), Africa Diaspora Workers Network and Zimbabwe Communist Group.
All shipping houses on the South African side were closed while those at the Beitbridge port were manned by minimal staff.
Armed police and other security agents maintained a heavy presence along the old bridge linking Musina with Beitbridge