By Sibusiso Ncube
Beitbridge East legislator Albert Ngulube says the decision to close the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 will likely see many people in his constituency starving.
Most people in Beitbridge reportedly rely on South Africa for employment due to limited opportunities in the border town and as well as for their other daily needs in terms of basic commodities
And since the border was closed due to the lockdown on the 30th of March many of Beitbridge residents are stranded and are having to stand in long queues at various shops trying to buy such basic commodities as mealie-meal.
Honourable Ngulube said resulted in some people who are hoarding basic commodities and then selling them in foreign currency.
“As Beitbridge, we are yet to register any case of COVID-19 but the measures that were taken by the two governments to curb the spread of the virus have greatly crippled our economic and social systems.
“Many if not everyone relies on South Africa and Musina for everyday basic needs and now that our source has been cut it means people have to do with the few that they have.
“The lockdown which saw the closure of shops has brought a crisis in the border town- we have long and chaotic queues to buy food, particularly mealie-meal which has become a rare and expensive commodity.
“Some unscrupulous dealers are now buying the few mealie-meal available and resale it in foreign currency as this town trades in Rand. Beitbridge is a Rand town and if there is no Rand coming in from South Africa it will cause a crisis, many will starve in these times,” he said.
The legislator added that since there are jobs in Beitbridge, there is the likelihood of criminal activities increasing as people look to find means of surviving.
“We don’t have an industry in Beitbridge and the closest many can get jobs is in South Africa and with the border closed and work suspended this means many of our people are now jobless.
“We fear that they will indulge in crime and unscrupulous measures to survive. Markets are closed and those who survive from vending have their livelihood crippled. The wares that they sell they horde from Musina and if it’s like this they can’t trade and hunger will strike families, rentals still needs to be paid,” he said.
Ngulube also took the opportunity to applaud his constituency for adhering to measures that have been put in place to curb COVID-19 adding he is glad that the virus is yet to be recorded in the province. Get all COVID-19 statistics for Zimbabwe from COVID-TRACKER