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Zim, SA border chiefs meet in wake of undocumented children row

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Cape Times


Co-operation and relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe is critical in resolving challenges shared at the border by the two countries.

These were the words by Border Management Authority (BMA) commissioner Michael Masiapato at a briefing in Pretoria where they hosted the Zimbabwe Border Ports Authority (ZBPA).

Zimbabwe is in the process of developing a Border Ports Authority Bill with the aim of officially establishing the ZBPA.

The visit aims to showcase South Africa’s model of administration and border management co-ordination.

The visit comes as officials from the two countries have been at odds over the number of undocumented Zimbabwean children intercepted on buses at the Beitbridge border post.

MBA alleged there were 443 children below the age of 8 years who were handed over to Zimbabwe authorities.

But the neighbouring country’s Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare said the number was inflated as this was not corresponding with their number of 124 during the period November 25 to December 3, 2023.

Masiapato said: “The co-operation and relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe in managing our shared borders is very critical for the protection of our respective national interests.

“As such, we have a collective responsibility to prevent illegal activities at our ports of entry and the border law enforcement areas such as illegal migration, any kind of smuggling, human trafficking, and all kinds of cross border crimes inclusive of the illegal movement of weapons, and or illicit goods between our countries.

“This meeting is a demonstration of the commitment to address our common challenges and a quest to improve the quality of life for citizens in both our countries.

“The engagements should go beyond just bureaucratic procedures but must embody the spirit of partnership and shared aspirations to work together for the better management of our border environment.”

The commissioner said the BMA was committed to sharing some lessons from their journey of 15 years since their establishment.

“We do believe that moving away from a multi-agency approach to an integrated border management model with a single command and control is the key step towards effective border management,” he added.

The ZBPA director-general Nicholas Dube said they wanted to go back to their country with a good report after learning from the BMA and also ironing out the misunderstanding of the undocumented children.

Dube is accompanied by his delegation consisting of representations from various spheres including lawyers, police and immigration and home affairs officers.

“We congratulate the BMA for their inauguration and now being operational. We are still in the process of also being established and that is why we came here. I came with people from different spheres of government and will go back more informed,” Dube said.

“Our visit to benchmark our proposed border post authority with the BMA is a testimony that our countries not only share a common and the busiest border post in Southern Africa but an inseparable destiny as well. We are hoping that after benchmarking our lawyers will be able to present to parliament.”