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    Sunday, 26 June 2016

    Chaos at Beitbridge as Shoppers resist Govt ban




    BEITBRIDGE BUREAU

    BEITBRIDGE
    – The signs of a troubled economy were seen at Beitbridge Border Post on Saturday when Riot Police had to be called in to quell tens of angry shoppers who broke into song and dance as they demonstrated against Government's move to ban the importation of certain basic commodities.
    The shoppers coming back home from South Africa were so vociferous that after a while ZIMRA officials were forced to reverse their decision to demand import certificates from the shoppers.
      Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 gazetted last week lists salad cream, milk, shoe polish, cooking oil, bottled water, door and window frames, wheelbarrows, baked beans, fertiliser, beds, office furniture, second-hand tyres, vegetables, canned fruits, cereals, cheese and ice creams among numerous other goods the Ministry of Industry and Commerce seeks to protect.
     ZIMRA officers were therefore enforcing that Statutory Instrument.
    The cross border shoppers complained that they had been ambushed by the new regulations published in the last Friday Government Gazzette only to be implemented the following morning.
      In an unprecedented incident never seen at Beitbridge Customs officers gave in to the shoppers' demands and reverted to the 40 percent duty usually levied.
     "They should have told us before collecting our money for duty first. How does one collect duty then demand for a permit?
      "They are robbers, why don't they first account for the $15 billion diamonds revenue? Can't they for once be ashamed of this exploitation on the poor souls of Zimbabwe!" exclaimed a shopper.
      Customs officers first collected duty before demanding permits which angered the shoppers.
    They converged under a shade in the Customs yard singing and dancing to Chimurenga song "Hatidi zvemadhisinyongoro".
     Customs officials were taken aback by the action of the usually compliant shoppers, mostly women, and called Police who in turn summoned their Support Unit to control the disgruntled crowd. Police showed disinterest after discovering that duty had been collected from the shoppers from whom permits were now being demanded.
      "I would not expect that to happen to me or anyone else," said a Policeman looking away from the melee.
      "They must first revive the industry, support farming than allow Chinese to come and loot our cash and diamonds before squeezing us," shouted another shopper.
      Police walked away after seeing there was no threat to property and lives while ZIMRA, with an egg on the face, gave way to the demand of the cross-border shoppers to start collecting the usual 40 percent duty.
      Social commentators accused the government of imposing sanctions on its citizens reeling from effects of a drought of both food and cash.
      "These permits are not easy to get, they must decentralise that process to the border just like they have done with all other things," said one commentator.
     The ZIMRA regional manager at Beitbridge, Batsirayi Chadzingwa referred all questions to his head office in Harare but goods were still coming in yesterday evening.
      Following the development the border post has been deserted with very few travellers to South Africa
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