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    Sue TremeerMember

    An open letter to Zimbabwe’s Minister of Tourism: “As investors in a successful tourism venture on Lake Kariba and regular road travellers through Zimbabwe, we need to express our frustrations, and concerns for potential clients and tourists to Zimbabwe. Our general point of entry by road is Beit Bridge, where we always make use of your loyal and most helpful tourism association staff, Bertha, Morgan and Linda – a team we regularly promote in SA, for their helpful and tireless efforts. On our last trip through this border post, we were harassed and threatened with criminal charges and/ or a bribe ranging from $150 to $400 dollars for apparently not having handed in our TIP form on exiting Zimbabwe at Plumtree in November 2016. After two-and-a-half hours of dialogue between the tourism official and the ZIMRA staff member at Beit Bridge, we were eventually allowed to pass through, as the Zim tourism official Morgan has had regular dealings with us. On returning to SA, my husband obtained a South African police clearance certificate. This was eventually accepted by the ZIMRA official, and hopefully we will not be faced with the same process on our next journey through.

    Our suggestion is that at this border post, and possibly Plumtree, visitors entering and travelling by road through Zimbabwe be supplied with a booklet of requirements for road travel: the necessary safety requirements, triangles, etc, and (more important) the most recent book of updated possible offences and fines applicable to vehicle travellers, with the applicable law as found in the government gazette.

    We fully support road rules and speed regulations being enforced, and the odd check for vehicles clearly not in a roadworthy condition. However, when faced with more than 30 police road blocks en route from Beit Bridge via Bulawayo to Kariba town and again on the way back, makes for a tiresome and most frustrating experience for tourists wishing to enjoy a peaceful journey through your country.

    On Friday 26th May, once through Beit Bridge, most of the 12 or so police road blocks on the route to Bulawayo were not in operation, making this part of the journey most pleasurable. From there on, past the last garage through Gweru, the journey north was fraught with corrupt and questionable traffic cops, not in uniform, issuing traffic fines. Detailed below:

    • Not enough yellow strips, even after we were advised by the Zimbabwean Tourism officials at the border prior to our journey about what was required when towing a trailer. $30.

    • A call for four red triangles instead of the required two. $30

    • The glass on the licence disc of our trailer had a miniscule stone chip. The licence disc was perfectly visible. We were fined $20 for this, and at the same police road block, the official who wrote out the fine (apparently a detective but not in uniform) pocketed $10 for slight dust on our back windscreen created by passing vehicles on the badly-potholed road approximately 15km south of Karoi. My husband was told to get out of the car to clean the back windscreen before continuing our journey. One wipe of a tissue was all that was required to clear a small amount of dust on the windscreen that at no stage adversely affected our view.

    These and other police stops delayed our journey north by more than two hours, and we were forced to pay an unbudgeted amount of $90 for unnecessary fines, ONE WAY, for a very safe and roadworthy newmodel Toyota vehicle. At no stage were we fined for speeding, as both my husband and I are mature and responsible drivers who respect road rules and stick to the given speed limits wherever we travel. No fines were issued for our vehicle’s not being in a roadworthy condition!

    We departed our destination in the early-morning hours in order to avoid the same police road blocks and unnecessary anxiety about the journey south.

    We trust your department will be able to make positive strides in improving this situation for tourism in Zimbabwe.”

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