Chombo Says Beitbridge Shutdown Won't Happen

Harare – Police in Zimbabwe will be “out in full force” to stop an attempted shutdown of the country’s main border with South Africa on Monday, Home Affairs Minister Ignatius Chombo has been quoted as saying.

Chombo told the state-controlled Sunday Mail: “We would like to assure all Zimbabweans and foreigners travelling into the country that all our ports of entry will be open for business as per normal.”

“Our law enforcement agencies will be out in full force to maintain peace and order,” he added.

Using the hashtag #Beitbridgeshutdown, protesters have been urging a shutdown of Beitbridge border post on Monday, partly to show Zimbabweans’ anger over an attempt to ban many South African imports. Informal traders – including former vice president Joice Mujuru, according to a post on her Facebook page – say they depend on these imports to make a living. 

Prayers will be said in Musina on the South African side of the border, according to a communique seen by News24. The protest appears to have the support of Zimbabwe’s International Cross Border Traders’ Association and Tajamuka, a protest group that is agitating for change in the country. 

President Robert Mugabe’s government is reacting with anger to a growing chorus of protests against the corruption and mismanagement that characterises much of its 36 years in power. 

An online movement known as #ThisFlag which was started by Harare pastor Evan Mawarire appears to have given many Zimbabweans the bravery to finally speak out. Mawarire is now in exile.

A Sunday Mail report said the authorities are crafting new legislation to jail those it considers to be abusing social media. In a clear threat to Mawarire and other frustrated Zimbabweans living in the diaspora, the paper said the authorities may even try to extradite citizens living outside the country if they engage in “abuse” of social media. 

The paper mentioned #ThisFlag and Tajamuka.