COVID-19: Zimbabwe Reacts On South African’s Plan To Erect Border Fence

Officials in Zimbabwe have reacted indifferently to South African’s announcement that it planned to erect a fence along the border with its neighbour as part of measures to stem irregular migration and contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Some people build durawalls around their houses, fields or properties and some put up fences. This is a choice people make on how to show their boundaries,” Nick Mangwana, the spokesman for Zimbabwe’s government, told Al Jazeera on Friday.

“The type of demarcation they choose is their sovereign right. The same applies to international boundaries.”

His comments came as Zimbabwe on Friday confirmed its first case of COVID-19, the highly infectious disease caused by the new coronavirus. South Africa has reported 202 cases to date.

The planned 40km (25-mile) fence is to be erected on both sides of the Beit bridge Land Port of Entry to “ensure that no undocumented or infected persons cross into the country”, Patricia de Lille, South Africa’s public works minister, said in a statement on Thursday, adding that the move could not be viewed as xenophobic.

“At the border post now, you’ve got health inspectors and you’ve got environmental professionals and they are doing the testing and screening at the border. But if somebody just walks over the border, there are no such facilities,” she said.