One operator, Pioneer, has already introduced a new range of schedules to capitalise on the latest developments. Pioneer now runs a coach which operates between Harare and Messina in South Africa. This caters for those who may want to go to South Africa specifically for shopping.
It has to be reckoned that despite the significant drop in in prices of most goods, electrical appliances in Zimbabwe are still very much highly priced with some more than treble the charge in South Africa. A visit to Roadport in Harare showed that the place was once again roaring into life after about two months of lessening of activity. There was very little activity in March and April at the Roadport as few people opted to go to South Africa since most of the products are now readily available on the local market.
The availability of commodities on the local market plus the stringent requirements to get a visa to visit South Africa made the destination less attractive. Some of the requirements for one to get a visa included a letter of invitation from the host in South Africa, a total of R2 000 or equivalent in traveller’s cheques and one was also made to wait in a queue to submit the documents and collect the passport after processing.
“It now makes sense to travel to South Africa for groceries which are still not reasonably priced here and definitely for electrical goods. As you may have noted, local shops charge us between US$150 and US$200 for a 21 inch television set, that is one from a reputable company, which is more than twice the price in South Africa."
“We have realised that the new visa regime benefits us as cross border operators and we have introduced new routes and schedules which have been fully booked since the announcement of the new requirements,” said the official manning a Munorurama office at the Roadport.
Apart from the attractive visa regime, buying goods from South Africa remains reasonable as returning residents are currently not required to pay duty on most products.
This was announced at the beginning of the year as the country was struggling with debilitating shortage of food.