Cooperation between South Africa and Zimbabwe in managing shared borders is critical for the protection of respective national interests.
“We have a collective responsibility to prevent illegal activities at our ports of entry and the border law enforcement areas such as illegal migration, any kind of smuggling, human trafficking, and all kinds of cross border crimes inclusive of the illegal movement of weapons, and or illicit goods between our countries,” Border Management Authority (BMA) Commissioner Michael Masiapato said.
He was speaking during a visit by the Zimbabwe Border Ports Authority in Pretoria.
The Commissioner said the South Africa/Zimbabwe border has long been a symbol of the intricate web of connections between the two countries.
“It is a border that does not just demarcate land but also represents a bridge of cultural, economic, and historical exchanges that we enjoyed over the years.”
He said besides geographic proximity, the two countries have a common and long history of regional affiliation as well as great aspirations for the development of the two nations.
“Therefore, it is in our interest to ensure effective border management which is crucial for ensuring the ultimate prosperity of both South Africa and Zimbabwe.
“Although cooperation on border management matters commonly embraces the aspects of enforcing territorial sovereignties, it also streamlines efforts for fostering economic growth and improvement in trade relations between nations.
“As the two jurisdictions within this sub-region, we have the responsibility to drive the objective of regional economic integration as articulated in the many resolutions of our leadership within the SADC [Southern African Development Community] context,” Masiapato said.
Border management is not just a matter of policy but a reflection of the shared commitment to regional stability and development of which border authority has to ensure the realisation of such an objective.
“As the Border Management Authority, South Africa, we are encouraged by the processes undertaken by the government of Zimbabwe in the development of the country’s Border Ports Authority Bill.
“This is critical towards the establishment of the Zimbabwean Border Ports Authority which carry similar resemblance our Border Management Authority,” the Commissioner said.
Masiapato is hosting his Zimbabwean counterpart for a bilateral visit in South Africa from 13 to 16 December 2023.
The visit aims to showcase South Africa’s model of administration and border management coordination.
The two countries are in a process of developing a Border Ports Authority Bill to establish the Zimbabwe Border Ports Authority and to provide for its functions.
In October this year President Cyril Ramaphosa presided over the launch of the BMA in Musina, Limpopo.
The launch of the BMA follows its formal establishment and assumption of its status as a schedule 3 (A) public entity on 1 April 2023.
The establishment of the BMA means that South Africa now has an integrated border management platform, with a single command and control with which to support the attainment of secure borders, safe travel and trade.
The BMA has, since its inception, recorded successes, among them intercepting stolen vehicles.
The authority is responsible for the execution of frontline border law enforcement functions related to, inter alia, port health, immigration control, access control, biosecurity, food safety and phyto-sanitary control, land border infrastructure development and maintenance, and border information and risk management. – SAnews.gov.za