The South Africa-Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security has agreed to improve cross-border cooperation between the two countries, with particular emphasis on border security.
The issue of a porous border was high on the agenda at the fifth session of the Commission that ended in Durban on Saturday. According to a final communique the smuggling of minerals – mostly from illegal mining, drugs, vehicles and other goods across the border was a “matter of concern.” Of particular concern was the illegal movement of people, especially those from the Great Lakes Region and Horn of Africa, the statement added. Zimbabwe, for its part, applauded South Africa’s Zimbabwe Documentation Project to document all illegal Zimbabwean immigrants in South Africa. Additional teams from Zimbabwe may be deployed to South Africa.
The two countries also mooted an increase in ports of entry in light of the volume of traffic between them through the Beit Bridge border post, South Africa’s busiest. The commission has suggested two new border posts at Mapungubwe and Chikwarakwara. Recommendations will be submitted by the end of March 2011.
The commission also noted the rise in incidents of rhino poaching within the Great Limpopo Trans-Frontier Park and in other nature reserves in South Africa. In response to the challenge, the body recommended the harmonisation of legislation, regulations and policies of the three countries (South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe) involved in the management of the park. This would facilitate the effective implementation of joint activities including cross border law enforcement, fire management, research and game capture operations, the statement said.
The South African delegation was led by Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu and her deputy Thabang Makwetta. The Zimbabwean delegation was led by Minister of State for National Security Sidney Skeramayi and Minister of Defence Kembo Mohadi. The Durban meeting followed a meeting in Zimbabwe in November last year. The next session of the commission is scheduled for Zimbabwe next year.