The governments of Botswana and Zimbabwe have agreed on June 1 as the official opening date of the new Mabolwe-Mlambapele border post, which is aimed at facilitating the movement of the Babirwa tribal community, which has members living on both sides of the border.
Addressing a bilateral meeting of immigration and security officials from the two countries in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, on Saturday, Botswana United Revenue Services (BURS) senior officer Patrick Mavuma said the opening of the border post had to be realised this time as it was already eight years behind schedule.
“We are here to update each other on the progress made so far, as well as to assess the backlogs we have before the proposed date of opening the new border post. To recap, this plan was agreed to in 2007 and a target date of 1 January 2008 for the opening of this border post in the territory of the Babirwa community.
“The border post is meant to facilitate the movement of people between the two countries and to re-link between a tribe that has people living in our two countries. Therefore, it is no longer guesswork as to when the border will open its gates to the public. 1 June, 2016, is the official opening date for the Mlambapele (Zimbabwe) and Mabolwe (Botswana) border posts,” Mavuma said.
Zimbabwean deputy Home Affairs minister Obedingwa Mguni said his country would do everything to ensure that there were no further delays in the opening of the new border post because local communities on either side had been pressing hard for it.
“There have been incessant calls from local chiefs from both Zimbabwe and Botswana, who said their people face the difficulties of travelling long to enter or exit via the Plumtree/Ramokgwebana border posts to attend funerals, weddings and other social events occurring just across the river from where they live. We will work to ensure that the border post is opened this time to ease movement to such crucial ceremonies,” he said.
The Mlambapele/Mabolwe border post will be the fourth border post to open along the borders of Botswana and Zimbabwe, which are mostly separated by the Ramokgwebana and Shashe rivers.
However, the main official crossing point between the two countries remains the Ramokgwebana/Plumtree border post, which also handles traffic from the North West province of South Africa.