Back in July, government officials announced that the Ministry of Finance had availed funds for the purchase of drones to patrol border the posts. The Ministry of Defence got ZW$100 million for the purchase of drones and the drones have finally been acquired.
The drones will be patrolling the borders to help officials to clamp down on smugglers and border jumpers.
The problem at hand
I recently became aware of the fact that Zimbabwe reportedly loses an estimated US$1 billion (in customs duty) on a yearly basis to smugglers. Tax officials have been asking for more resources to be able to plug the holes.
In a position paper submitted to Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) said the Government should urgently deal with the deficiencies in customs procedures, border control and security systems in order to curb the leakage of hundreds of millions of dollars in potential duty revenue.
Beyond the lost revenues, there is also a big issue regarding border jumpers. Whilst I couldn’t find any numbers on how many people are crossing the borders illegally, it’s undeniably a huge problem.
Kazembe Kazembe – Minister of Home Affairs- spoke on the deployment of drones;
We have beefed up security personnel, but over and above that, we are also in the process of deploying new technologies and so far Treasury has bought drones to be used to patrol those areas and we have also requested from the Treasury for them to buy us vehicles that will be deployed there.
A lasting solution?
Whilst the purchase of drones is a great thing, my biggest concern is that this will not solve the corruption problem at our borders. Whilst drones may help apprehend smugglers and border jumpers in the act, what will stop government officials from taking bribes from apprehended individuals and letting them go? Tech might actually end up presenting an opportunity for officials to apprehend more people incentivising them to take more bribes.