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Inside the notorious ‘Mabvuku Border Post’

It stands as the guard post, a diving line between residents from Mabvuku, Ruwa, Damofalls and Zimre Park, and Harare’s central business district.
Cars line up for several kilometers as the police and military interrogate both vehicles and pedestrians seeking passage into town.
Zimbabwe is currently under Level 4 lockdown, which restricts many sectors of the economy from operating. But due to economic hardships, people that are not essential services personnel try to move past various roadblocks and checkpoints to their different areas of operation.
Some will be travelling to Mbare, whose home industry, though ordered to shut down, is a hive of activity.
Tuck-shop operators will be travelling to buy stuff for resale while vendors will be going to the heart of the city where they operate under tough circumstances where they play cat and mouse games with the police.
The high volume of people trying to get into town without the required documentation and the strictness of officials at the checkpoint often creates traffic congestion and general confusion.
Those who travel the route have grown to know the spot, located just after Mabvuku turn-off and before the road-over-rail flyover as the Mabvuku Border Post.
To evade the authorities, a large number of people slips through the post in the cover of tall grass and maize fields, only to emerge after the checkpoint.
One has to catch a lift and drop off just before the security area, and walk the remainder of the distance until they emerge after the checkpoint where they then get transport that takes them to town or within touching distance of the CBD.
Others pay pirate taxis, the infamous mshika-shika, double the usual price. This amount guarantees them safe passage as they are not requested to produce any documentation at the roadblock.
The mshika-shika operators allegedly bribe law enforcement officers manning various checkpoints, to freely operate. So reckless (read arrogant) are the pirate taxi operators, they even drive against on-coming traffic to avoid the congestion.
In many ways than one, Mabvuku is similar to most of the country’s borders, strict on face value but easily penetrable if one has the right amount.
The “tightness” of security apparently is simply to create chaos, which enables corrupt officials to make money. This then brings under the spotlight the question whether the lockdown, the police checkpoints and movement requirements are working as intended by those in authority.
In the pirate taxi, people are overloaded, some even occupying the boot. A five passenger car can carry nine or 10 people, which of course, is fertile ground for Covid-19.
If Government were to open the economy and maybe enforce strict adherence to the simplest rules that protect people, then the fight against both the pandemic and starvation would be won.
As it is, hunger, and the need to earn a living are scarier than possibilities of contracting the virus while trying to sneak through checkpoints. Nhau/Indaba

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