SA, Zim To Discuss Import Ban – Minister

Pretoria – South Africa will continue to talk to Zimbabwe to find a “mutually beneficial” solution to violent protests in Beitbridge, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Monday.

The protests in the border town started on Friday, triggered by strict new import regulations by Zimbabwe, which affected cross-border traders.

According to reports, 71 people had been arrested so far.

South Africa was aware of Zimbabwe’s prohibition of certain imports from SA, which took effect on Friday, Nkoana-Mashabane told reporters in Pretoria.

She said SA understood from Zimbabwe that the measures were to protect local industries and “increase capacity”. The ban included products like bottled water, furniture, building materials, steel products, cereals, potato crisps, and dairy products.

“Importers are supposed to apply for special licences and give reasons why they have to import specific products.”

She said the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia and Malawi were affected by the import restrictions, since they also used the Beitbridge border post for imports from SA.

“Zimbabwe remains one of our strategic partners in the region, and this has translated into good economic relations between the two countries having to be looked at,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

“We will continue to engage Zimbabwe for a solution that is mutually beneficial.”