South Africa has accused Zimbabwe of ‘killing’ its business with the rest of Africa due to the on-going upgrades on the main border between the two countries.
South Africa says that this causes serious delays for haulage trucks.
Zimbabwe has embarked on a $300 million project to upgrade the Beitbridge border post – the busiest inland port in southern Africa.
Beitbridge is the gateway to South Africa’s major regional markets such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Zambia.
The company that was awarded the contract has started collecting new access toll fees of up to $344 and South Africa says this has contributed to delays at the border as authorities are demanding payment in cash.
This has seen queues for haulage trucks stretching over 10 kilometres on both sides of the border.
South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the introduction of the new toll fees have caught them by surprise. He accused Zimbabwe of making a ‘mockery’ of the African free trade pact.
“The congestion (at the border) is being caused by the continued construction on the Zimbabwean side,” the South African minister told eNCA.
“It looks like their construction has now reached a difficult point, they don’t allow trucks from South Africa on their side because they have got no parking space,” Dr Motsoaledi said.
Dr Motsoaledi said he had tried to call his Zimbabwean counterpart Kazembe Kazembe over the mess at the border without success.
He added: “The situation makes a mockery of the African Union free trade agreement (African Continental Free Trade Area), I’m sure you are aware that the African Union signed this Africa free trade agreement with a lot of gusto and it was publicised. Beitbridge is the gateway between South Africa and the rest of the continent.”
Largest trading partner
“It’s a mockery that a country (Zimbabwe) can make unilateral measures without warning us, it is frustrating and is killing business between South Africa and the rest of the continent,” he said.
South Africa is Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner. The two countries have regularly clashed over border controls. Illegal immigrants use Zimbabwe’s porous borders to gain entry into South Africa.