"The model of the One Stop Border Post, birthed around the year 2000, is one of the modern approaches to improving border operations and trade infrastructure. This trade facilitation tool is envisaged to promote a coordinated and integrated approach to facilitating trade in goods and services, facilitating the movement of people and to improving security," said Hon. Ndebele.
The highly interactive meeting, where Members of the TIFI Committee received submissions from resource persons from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and the Southern African Cross Border Traders Association, is part of preparations for the 49th Plenary Assembly Session to be hosted by the Parliament of Botswana in June, 2021 where SADC-PF Committees will each table their reports.
Some of the challenges highlighted by COMESA include variances in applicable duty rates that significantly differ from one country to the other, lack of uniformity in penalties and fines and the continuous lockdown on all Zimbabwean borders. These challenges have serious implications on the livelihoods of cross border traders especially among small cross border traders who are agents of poverty alleviation.
"The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have clearly demonstrated that even if significant progress on digital transformation and the e-Commerce Agenda is to be achieved, goods still need to physically cross borders and undergo all border procedures. As such, the acceleration of the Model of One Stop Border Post in the Southern African Region and Africa at large cannot be overstated," said Hon Ndebele adding that "the need for infrastructure development with regard to trade in the SADC Region is further augmented following the commencement of trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area in January, 2021."
The Committee also called on SADC countries to pay special attention to the role played by natural resources in insurgency and regional conflicts - which has impacts negatively on cross border trade and regional integration. The Committee has also pledged its support to the move by SADC Presidents and Heads of State to send experts to Mozambique to assess the situation on the ground.
"I believe it is high time that we critically assess the issue of natural resources as it is one of the major causes of conflict in our region. As a region we must protect and advance human rights, we cannot stand as spectators and watch when young women and children in Mozambique are being abducted and their human rights stripped," said Hon Dennis Namachekecha Phiri, a Member of the Committee from Malawi.
Insurgency, such as the current situation in the Northern province of Mozambique is likely to have a negative impact on trade as the insurgents take full control of resource-rich regions to block access and close trade routes so that resources cannot reach their original destination as outlined in the established sale contracts.
"A complex crisis such as insurgency will undeniably result in economic and financial risk for the country with rising inflation and a fall in stock exchange figures, with investors losing confidence in the ability of the country to keep its borders secure," said SADC-PF Secretary General Ms Boemo Sekgoma.
The statutory meetings continue tomorrow, Monday, 12 April, with the Standing Committee on the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FARN), chaired by Hon. Leon Tumba, scheduled to discuss the role of Parliaments in harnessing domestic tourism in times of pandemics, focusing specifically on COVID-19. About six SADC-PF Standing Committees are holding virtual statutory meetings from the 9th to 16th of April 2021.
ISSUED BY THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PARLIAMENTARY FORUM