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Zimbabwe bus robberies in South Africa

11 Jun 2015 at 14:17hrs | Views
time to reflect on ways of doing business

Recently a number of Zimbabwean buses bound to South Africa carrying mostly small to medium business people and cross border traders were robbed of their cash and other valuables. If you closely analyse the robberies there are a few glaring issues that I noted that I thought I can share with my fellow Zimbabweans. It is no doubt that Zimbabweans are hardworking people but at this age and era we have to critically analyse how we spend our energy, the way we do business to achieve our goals or we will tire  without realizing the fruits of our energy. Or worse still we will die working and never to enjoy our sweat.

Firstly the robberies were done when the buses were going to South Africa from Zimbabwe, in South African territory. I agree with others who postulate that the robberies can be linked to people who have knowledge of the buses schedules and passenger information. There is a tendency by passengers to confide in their bus crew of their business in countries they visit so that they can be assisted one way or the other and also the crew is well conversant with most of the business dealings in that particular country. That information can be abused if it falls on bad hands hence the same could have happened in this scenario.

I have gone to a few neighbouring countries myself and I know for sure that there is also a requisite amount of money one is needed to carry when visiting these countries and in many instances people carry large sums way above the required amount and confide with bus crews to help with enabling safe passage across the border. All this information is privy to the crew and could have been exploited to know which bus was to be a target. There was no random robberies targeting all Zimbabwean buses as some continued with their journeys without any disturbances. Some have been plying this route since time immemorial and have not been experienced any such cases.

Another point to note also is that there is no incident of a bus that was robbed when coming from South Africa to Zimbabwe. This is simple because the passengers would have disposed of their cash and all what there is are cartoons of zapnax, twizza drinks, candles, energy drinks etc.

Looking at another angle from a business perspective the passengers from Zimbabwe most of them cross border traders have a cross border association which I think by now they should engage so that these robberies will not recur. It is high time that people in Zimbabwe should start considering using ICTs in their businesses to prevent such cases and risks of loss of life and injuries. With the Cross Border Association in place ways can be explored to engage the business community across the border to do organized buying and transactions that limits this high risk way of doing business. The association should find ways to engage all the people doing cross border business so that they fall in their association to ensure that there is a holistic adherence to set procedures. South Africa has the capacity to utilize plastic money thereby eliminating all risks involved with losing money. It is up to the government to chip in by introducing open Wi-Fi to ensure that people can access the internet from more areas. Cross border traders should consider using prepaid visa cards/visa cards being offered by most Zimbabwean banks. For those who do not fancy banks they can consider using Econet's debit cards which combines formal banking and mobile banking [m-banking].There is also another way of discouraging buses to ferry thousands of wares whilst at the same time pulling trailer loads of wares. To enact a law prohibiting such thereby forcing cross boarders to come together to formulate and explore modern safer ways of buying and selling.

I have seen the buses at Machipisa bus termini when they are from South Africa. Most of the items being sourced from across the Limpopo is grocery in the form of energy drinks, twizza drinks, zapnax, sweets, yoghurt, beds etc. If people are able to do transaction online importing cars from Japan to South Africa and Tanzania, surely it can make sense to have truckloads of lollipop sweets imported from South Africa to Zimbabwe without any hassles.

All this talk of 75 people crammed in a bus escorting a few kilograms of yoghurt can be done with thereby reducing the risks of loss of life, valuables and injuries. With 90% plus education rate we can do better than South Africa itself in employing modern ways of doing business through the use of ICTs. The Herald of 28th May 2015 in its business section carried a story headlined 'Paperless transactions hit $1,3bn' .It alluded to the fact that Zimbabweans are now embracing virtual payments systems. It also noted that the SME and informal sector [shadow economy] hold around $7bn .This amount if transacted properly in the system can enhance our economy some way.

Above all this we have witnessed many horrific accidents here and abroad of our buses killing families and injuring others. People come together as a family to go across the border so as to counter duty issues on items which they share amongst themselves.

It is no doubt that the time is nigh that all Zimbabweans doing cross border business should seriously think away from the box. Going to foreign countries carrying large sums of money in a bid to do business and using buses as a mode of transporting goods is archaic.

I remember growing up in the 80's doing my primary school in rural Makonde area reciting the famous Humpty Dumpty poem.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
By Mother Goose
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king's men
Couldn't put humpty together again.

Source: The Dorling Kindersley Book of Nursery Rhymes [2000]

For the purpose of this article l will not delve much into this Humpty Dumpty story. Cross border traders, SMEs and any other business people in the informal sectors should consider doing business the modern way or risk having a big fall like this humpty character. As a country we have the potential [humpty] to fully utilize ICTs to our full benefit. I have seen that the sitting on the wall in embracing ICTs is not in the government/ministries only but the general populace as well. The Dumpty part of Humpty is the worst that we should avoid at all cost.

Collen Maenda is a freelance journalist writing on his own accord. He can be contacted

Source - Collen Maenda
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