Zimbabwe’s borders with Zambia will open for 24 hours during the Sadc Summit to be hosted in the country later this year, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Walter Mzembi has said.
By Kudzai Chimhangwa
The opening of the border posts is being implemented as a pilot project which should then be replicated across other African nations’ borders.
Last year, Zambia and Zimbabwe implemented another pilot project during the 20th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly which culminated in the free movement of persons across borders between both countries.
“Regrettably, after the general assembly, one week later it was back to business as usual because of the behaviour of bureaucrats. They are the ones who complicate things.
“I have since understood that you can’t do anything without money. So the excuse is we don’t have money. You don’t have money to open a border 24 hours a day?” asked Mzembi.
He said the closure of the gates had to do with paperwork and drawing up of charters and protocols that may not be visible to the travelling public, but pledged that this year, the borders between Zimbabwe and Zambia would be open.
“The excuse relating to money has already been fixed. The World Bank gave us money to keep those gates open,” he said.
Mzembi also took a swipe at security personnel who did not view visas as travel but rather as security documents.
“But going forward we are hoping that the pilot project can then be rationalised into Sadc as part of a Univisa project,” he said.
“The pressure should be kept on our security people because they are the ones who raise concern. They think these visas are a security document. Visas are meant to facilitate travel so that you can earn income,” said Mzembi.
He added that issues that security personnel used to cite in the past about visas as a security measure have been rendered useless by the information and technology revolution.