The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the decision taken by the government to open all land borders tomorrow and allow the free flow of traffic.
Our objection to the closure of land ports, as announced by the President in December 2020, was informed by a realisation that the closure had nothing to do with curbing the spreading of Covid-19 but an attempt by the Department of Home Affairs to hide its incompetency following the traffic congestion we witnessed at Beitbridge and Lebombo border posts.
An oversight visit conducted by the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee confirmed that the December congestion was caused by widespread lack of planning and coordination among officials in the Department. Minister Motsoaledi has an obligation to ensure that there is adequate capacity to enforce traffic and border control protocols once the border entry points are opened.
While the Department did present a plan in last Portfolio Committee, members were not convinced because it lacked adequate detail due to outstanding reports. Worse still, the Department was still yet to meet with Health Offices, a meeting whose outcome is still outstanding.
South Africa’s land based ports of entry are vital for the country’s access to regional markets. Closing them in the first place was an ill-informed decision. The DA will be monitoring tomorrow’s opening and will hold the Minister accountable should there be any repeat of the chaos we witnessed in December.