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Zimbabwe-South Africa Fence

Officials in Zimbabwe have reacted indifferently to South Africa's announcement that it planned to erect a fence along the border with its neighbour as part of measures to stem irregular migration and contain the spread of the new coronavirus. "Some people build durawalls around their houses, fields or properties and some put up fences. This is a choice people make on how to show their boundaries," Nick Mangwana, spokesman for Zimbabwe's government, told Al Jazeera on 20 March 2020. "The type of demarcation they choose is their sovereign right. The same applies to international boundaries."

Part of the old fence was swept away by the floods in 2000, while some parts were vandalised and stolen. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and residents in villages near the border with Zimbabwe welcomed plans to rebuild the border fence. SANDF Head of Communications, Siphiwe Dlamini, says the new fence will help curb the smuggling of illicit goods and illegal immigration. This announcement by the Minister of Public Works will go a long way to assist in dealing with the challenges of illegal crossing into the country. It will contribute to assist in monitoring and securing the borders of the country. I think its a step that we should all applaud and I hope it is the beginning in curbing the illegal entry and border jumpers and most importantly the illicit trading.

The planned 40km (25-mile) fence is to be erected on both sides of the Beitbridge Land Port of Entry to "ensure that no undocumented or infected persons cross into the country", Patricia de Lille, South Africa's public works minister, said in a statement on 19 March 2020, adding that the move could not be viewed as xenophobic. "At the border post now, you've got health inspectors and you've got environmental professionals and they are doing the testing and screening at the border. But if somebody just walks over the border, there are no such facilities," she said.

"We are certainly not xenophobic. We have had thorough consultations with all the countries that are our neighbours. What is important for South Africa is to protect our own citizens and people coming into our country because at the border post now, you've got health inspectors and you've got environmental professionals and they are doing the testing and screening at the border. But if somebody just walks over the border, there are no such facilities," she added.

South Africa, the continent's most industrialised country, has long sought to reduce irregular migration from Zimbabwe, which it sees as a threat to local jobs in a country with unemployment of around 30 percent. Thousands of Zimbabweans have for years been entering South Africa, the continent's most industrialised country, via undesignated and other points along the border to escape a deepening economic crisis at home. With unemployment hovering around 30 percent, South Africa has long been meaning to reduce what it perceives as irregular migration from Zimbabwe and a threat to local jobs - but it has been hesitant to take bold action on the issue.

The new fence will also help to prevent the destruction of their crops and properties by elephants that cross to the villages from Zimbabwe.





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Page last modified: 26-03-2020 18:56:59 ZULU