JOHANNESBURG – The International Cross Border Traders Association on Tuesday warned it would bring the Beitbridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe to a standstill.
The association, with over 15,000 members, said it would give Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s government a week to lift a ban on certain imports.
Its president Dennis Juru was addressing the media in Braamfontein together with members of the #Tajamuka movement.
On July 1 2016, chaos erupted on the South Africa side of the border post after a ban was imposed on certain products including jam, mayonnaise, peanut butter and some body creams.
Angry members of the International Cross Border Traders Association attempted to block the road leading to the border post on the South African side, but police dispersed the crowd. In Zimbabwe, a tax agency warehouse was set alight.
The chaos led to a blockage at the border for several hours.
On Tuesday, the association said, “We are only giving them one week and after one week we are going to close Beitbridge border post because it is the busiest border in Zimbabwe. We are going to ask #Tajamuka and other organisations to help us when we are protesting,” said Juru.
Juru added their members would be out in full force next week if their demands are not met.
“Last time we had more than 10,000 protesters. We have 15,000 members crossing the border from Zimbabwe to South Africa, so we are expecting something. It might me more than 15,000 or it might be less but we are expecting a lot of protesters,” he said.
The association was supported by the #Tajamuka movement which has also expressed frustrations with the Mugabe government.
#Tajamuka is one of the organisations fighting for change in Zimbabwe. According to its organisers, it is a Zimbabwean youth campaign which comprises different opposition political parties.
It also includes youth civil society organisations which have come together to form a campaign that will focus on demanding accountability from the government.
Its spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi said the youth is tired and want change in the country.
He said following the national shutdown earlier this month and subsequent protests, the campaign wants answers from government.
Among their issues of concern are, the government’s failure to pay civil servants, the introduction of bond notes, police brutality, and what they termed ‘unreasonable roadblocks’.
At the top of their list, Mkwanazi said, is the Mugabe presidency.
“We are giving the government up to the 31 August 2016, for President Mugabe to either step down or indicate to the nation a timeline framework in as far as his vacation of the presidential office is concerned. And also some benchmark towards proper transition in the country,” said Mkwanazi.
He said the campaign will take their demands and proposals to regional bodies.
“We will be putting a proposal to SADC and the African Union saying that this is the process the country is going through; it is a necessary. President Mugabe can’t go on until 2018 and definitely should not be part of the post 2018 era,” said Mkwanazi.
He said it’s time for a new era in the troubled country and warned that the youth are ready to raise up against the Mugabe regime should their demands not be met by government.
• Government drops the import ban.
• Government to abandon the adoption of the bond note.
• Roadblocks must be brought down
• Government must come up with a clear procedure on how they will be paying the civil servants
• Demanding an end to corruption
• Demanding an immediate end to the heavy handedness of the state in response to legitimate citizen concerns.
• We want a new electoral framework in Zimbabwe that is going to produce a legitimate and undisputed leader.