Zimbabwe’s land borders have been closed to the general public for the greater part of 2020 and 2021 as part of measures by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19, which has so far infected over 120, 000 and claimed more than 4, 000 lives.
The continued closure of borders has however adversely affected operations of informal sector traders whose livelihoods depend on cross border operations.
CITE this week spoke to Pretty Mpofu, a cross-border, trader who highlighted the following challenges:
.Embarking on illegal cross-border activities.
· Some informal traders lost money and valuables in the process
· Some women were raped in the process
· Women were harassed by security forces patrolling areas around borders
Use of cargo trucks
· Runners based in South Africa who buy goods on behalf of traders are overcharging them
· Runners are making choices on goods to be bought on behalf of informal traders who cannot travel to South Africa
· Some goods bought through third parties fail to attract customers in Zimbabwe resulting in losses being incurred
Clearance of goods hurdles
· Goods for cross-border traders are sometimes confiscated at the border by custom officials.
· Some traders end up paying cargo transporters additional money for goods to be cleared.
· Some goods transporters lose them before they are delivered to their owners
Drop in profits
· Cross border trading is no longer as lucrative as it was before the advent of Covid-19
· Some businesses are no longer profitable
Inability to satisfy customer needs
· Some runners do not always buy goods as per specifications and as a result customer needs are no longer satisfied.
· Some customers have lost trust in the cross-border traders who sometimes fail to fulfil their promises.