hoto by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images

A general view of the border fence that separates South Africa and Zimbabwe near the Beitbridge border post, near Musina, on October 1, 2020.

COVID-19 Concerns Increase as ​Zimbabweans Spend Second Week Queuing at Border

Long queues at South Africa's Beitbridge border between Zimbabwe have raised concerns over the super-spreading of COVID-19 as both countries enter a lockdown.

According to TimesLIVE, COVID-19 concerns are increasing for both South Africa and Zimbabwe. This follows a second week of a bottlenecking situation at South Africa's Beitbridge border post caused by an influx of Zimbabweans who want to to re-enter the country. The cause of the long queues is reportedly due to the coronavirus screening process between the two countries. It is unclear when this queue started although News24 reports that the queuing began this past Sunday. Zimbabwe is set to re-enter a hard lockdown starting next week Tuesday as part of efforts to combat rising coronavirus cases.

Read: South Africa Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Plan

Reports of a bottleneck at the border initially circulated on December 27th and as such, reinforcements were sent to Beitbridge from January 2nd to January 14th. Desperation to re-enter South Africa has seen a rise in fake COVID-19 test results which are reportedly being sold by a syndicate. This after the MEC of Health in Limpopo, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, announced that people with positive COVID-19 test results would be denied entry into the country.

The border crisis has become the subject of debate on social media with various voices coming out under the hashtag #CloseBeitbridgeBorder. The Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF)'s Mbyuseni Ndlozi called for the border to remain open and for the situation to be addressed as a humanitarian issue. He further went on to call for accountability from Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Tensions are rising as there are concerns that the queues will become a site for the super-spreading of the coronavirus. Others on social media have used the hashtag to express both health concerns and xenophobic sentiments.

Zimbabweans are not only the ones faced with difficulty in re-entering South Africa. Citizens from Lesotho have reportedly been caught illegally crossing into South Africa with some risking their lives crossing a river in the Free State. Four drivers reportedly died in December while waiting for the COVID-19 screening to occur at Beitbridge border. South Africa is currently in an adjusted level-three lockdown following an unprecedented rise in coronavirus infection rates.

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Sudan Declares State of Emergency, As Military Dissolves Transitional Government

As the North African country edged closer to democracy, Sudan's military has seized power.

Sudan's military has seized power over the North African country, arresting multiple civilian leaders, including the current Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. The power-sharing, unstable coalition, called the Sovereign Council, was created as a transitional government after the fall of dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019, in an attempt to move towards a democratic Sudan.

The Sudanese public has been split in recent weeks as groups protested for a military-run state, while others pushed for a civilian lead, democratic nation. Last week, the Prime Minister vocalized his plans towards a full transition to civilian rule, and his plans to have that body in place by November 17, echoing the voices of thousands of Sudanese demonstrators who showed up in hoards to demand that the promise of Sudan's pro-democracy movement be honored. But on Monday the PM and multiple government ministers and officials were placed under arrest, resulting in Sudan's top general's declaring State of Emergency.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said in a televised statement, "To rectify the revolution's course, we have decided to declare a state of emergency nationwide… dissolve the transitional sovereign council, and dissolve the cabinet." His statement came as soldiers fired live rounds at anti-military protestors, outside of the army headquarters in the capital.

Internet services were cut across the country around dawn and the main roads and bridges into Khartoum shut, before soldiers stormed the headquarters of Sudan's state broadcaster in the capital's twin city of Omdurman, the ministry said. After months of rising tensions in the country, army and paramilitary troops have been deployed across the capital city, Khartoum, with the airports and internet access being shut down. As a result of the coup, hundreds of protestors have taken to the streets, demanding the return of a civilian ruled and the transitional government, the BBC reports.

Demonstrators have spread to a number of Sudanese cities including Atbara, Wad Madani, and Port Sudan, and more are expected to attend the call for action. "We will not leave the streets until the civilian government is back and the transition is back," protest attendee Sawsan Bashir told AFP. While demonstrator Haitham Mohamed says, "We are ready to give our lives for the democratic transition in Sudan."

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