By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Photo Credit: GCIS.
Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi has published the draft One-Stop Border Policy (OSBP) for public consultation.
The policy aims to harmonise the movement of people and goods between South Africa’s land ports of entry and its neighbouring countries, as well as address congestion which results in delays.
The document also highlights a number of failures with the country's current border system, including:
- Poor controls and weak management that adversely affect the country’s territorial integrity;
- Border infrastructure such as fences and patrol roads are inadequate. The capability of the state to secure this environment is limited and exposes large parts of the land border to strategic vulnerability, which contributes to problems such as wildlife poaching, human trafficking and smuggling;
- The location, number and design of the country’s 72 ports of entry are a legacy of the country’s colonial and apartheid past.
To address these issues, government will establish a new Border Management Authority (BMA) which will be at the forefront of fighting illicit and unauthorised movement at the country’s borders.
The BMA will be established as a national public entity and will report to the minister of Home Affairs.
The Department of Home Affairs said it is also redeveloping six of South Africa’s ports of entry, including:
- Beit Bridge (Zimbabwe);
- Lebombo (Mozambique);
- Oshoek (Eswatini);
- Kopfontein (Botswana);
- Maseru Bridge (Lesotho);
- Ficksburg (Lesotho).
This major project is aimed at modernising these ports into 'world-class' one-stop border posts, with construction set to be concluded by 2025.
The benefit for the South African economy is that goods and people will move through these six busiest land ports at a faster pace and in a more effective and efficient manner," the department said.
"This will have specific and direct benefits for traders, freight carriers and all those transporting goods since the intention is that all movement through these ports will be processed once and jointly by South Africa and the relevant neighbouring country."
South Africa and its neighbouring countries currently use a two-stop system in which exit procedures are carried out by one state on one side of the border, while entry procedures are carried out on the other side.
The department said that the ideal solution is to establish OSBPs where vehicles, goods and people stop only once for border processing formalities.
Through a negotiated bilateral agreement, officials from both countries will operate in a common control zone where all procedures will be harmonised.
The new border policy comes after South Africa entered into the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 1 January 2021.
The historic AfCFTA agreement has been signed by 54 of the 55 African Union (AU) member States, and 34 countries have already deposited their instruments of ratification to the AU Commission and have become state parties.