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Dialogue could have averted COVID-19 Beitbridge border chaos

19 Jan 2021 at 16:18hrs | Views
The festive season was marked by dramatic scenes of tens of thousands of people amassing at border posts between South Africa and its neighbours where procedures had slowed down due to COVI D-19 restrictions.

Border posts such as Beitbridge between South Africa and Zimbabwe and the Lebombo border with Mozambique were particularly chaotic, with travellers and trucks delayed for days. Many people used dangerous illegal routes to cross into South Africa after spending Christmas at home.

The panic and congestion - potentially aggravating the pandemic - was largely due to a lack of coordination between governments and failure to implement strategies agreed on by Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states. Dialogue at a high level could have averted much of the crisis.

The Beitbridge situation can largely be blamed on Zimbabwe's government, which unilaterally announced on 3 January that all its borders would be closed due to the COVI D-19 surge. Anxious citizens, many hoping to return to work in South Africa, rushed to the border. Shocking videos of people climbing the steep pillars of the bridge between the two countries circulated on social media.

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