South Africa shuts down land borders amid a spike in COVID-19 cases

  • All 20 land borders to be closed until 15 February 2021
  • Limited service to be allowed for returning foreigners with permanent residency and other similar Visas
  • Closure of the South African land borders has a negative bearing on Zimbabwe’s economic activities

The president of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday announced that the country will be closing its 20 land border posts until the 15th of February 2021 in a bid to clamp down the surging cases of COVID 19 that have been exacerbated by the emergence of a new variant of the virus.

This decision comes after a fortnight of the country’s borders being severely congested by thousands of people attempting to return from neighboring nations especially Zimbabwe and Mozambique following the festive season.

Until the 15th of February 2021, the borders will only be open for limited service allowing passage for only returning South African Nationals, foreigners with permanent residency, diplomats, as well other people with other valid Visas such as foreign students studying in the country.

The border will also be open for the departure of foreign nationals.

Zimbabwe also introduced similar measures and another intensive nationwide lockdown put into effect on the 5th of January 2021.

Although not great, the closure of the South African land borders has some bearing on the Zimbabwean economy.

Zimbabweans working in South Africa are responsible to some extent for foreign currency generation for the Zimbabwean economy through remittances in Rands sent back into the country.

According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), between the first of the 1st of January 2020 and the 31st of July 2020, Zimbabwe received a total of US$466.2 million in formal remittances compared to 349.7 million dollars during the same period in 2019, a surge accredited to the many Zimbabweans in nearby countries such as South Africa and Botswana opting to use formal money transfer channels because of complications posed by COVID-19.

South Africa is also a major capacitator of the Zimbabwean informal trade sector, as most traders travel to the country to buy goods especially food stuffs and clothing items from cities like Musina for resell in Zimbabwe.

Overall, South Africa is a major trade partner for Zimbabwe, accounting for over 38% of all of Zimbabwe’s imports which translates to over USD$2,4 billion annually.

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