Saturday, 2 July 2016

Musina traders cry foul

South Africa’s northern town of Musina has been the hardest hit by the new import regulations that remove the shipping of listed basic commodities into the country under the Open General Import Licence.

The implementation of Statutory Instrument No. 64 of 2016 that tightens screws on the import of basic commodities including food items, building materials, furniture, toiletries and cooking oil among other things, saw the town literally becoming a ghost town.

Some Indian and Ethiopian businessmen in Musina yesterday closed shops for over six hours to demonstrate and block that country’s component of the border posts urging the Zimbabwean Government to lift the ban since business at their shops was grinding to a halt.

Thousands of people including Zimbabweans based in South Africa and businessmen from Musina, took part in protests where they closed the border barring traffic from entering or leaving that country.
Musina traders cry foul
It is understood that 60 percent of these businessmen sell the restricted goods.

A car dealer based on the South African border, Mr Clemence Mabidi, said most of the shops in Musina were closed for the duration of the protests.

“There are thousands of people here who are blocking traffic from entering or leaving South Africa until the Government of Zimbabwe lifts the ban on imports of basic commodities.

“A few shops are open but Musina town and the border post have been shut down,” he said.

Mr Mabidi said many travellers have started going back to Zimbabwe for their own security.

Zimbabweans buying an average of 200 vehicles from SA car dealers per day.

In separate interviews workers employed in these shops said shops in Musina were shut down between 6am and 12pm, most of them belonging to the Indians and Ethiopians, to allow them time to participate in the demo.

“All Indian and Ethiopians shops were closed including the China City which is a favourite spot for Zimbabweans cross-border traders was closed because of the protest against the new import regulations, which is fast seeing these guys running out of business.

“You will note that most of the travellers frequent these shops and if the Government of Zimbabwe goes ahead with implementing the new law, Musina will be dead,” said one of the workers.

It is also reported that most car dealers on the South African border also closed shop to join in the demonstrations.

Zimbabweans buy an average of 200 vehicles from these car dealers per day while trade imports from the neighbouring country stands at 60 percent annually.

Limpopo Police Spokesperson Colonel Ronel Otto confirmed yesterday that the border’s entry point was temporarily blocked for six hours by the demonstrators.

“The border is open and operating now. The demonstrations were peaceful,” she said.

Zimbabwe has been stamping its buying power in countries in the region, resulting in many businesses setting bases near the country’s borders to capture the US dollar.

Some enterprising businesses from South Africa in the retail sector have created synergies with local companies, while others have moved to establish shops in Zimbabwe in pursuit of the US dollar.
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