Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials, accompanied by baton stick-wielding police and National Social Security Authority (NSSA) officials, raided the popular Gulf shopping complex in downtown Harare yesterday morning, sealing off the mall to clampdown suspected tax evaders.
Hundreds of shoppers were trapped inside during the raid while others were prevented from entering.
The Zimra officials were demanding that traders produce shop licences, declaration forms for imported goods in their shops, salary structures for their employees as well as evidence they were remitting taxes. NSSA officials demanded to see registration papers and the ownership structure of the businesses.
The officials arrived at the complex between 10am and 11am and closed the mall’s gates before moving from shop to shop, demanding staff to produce proof they were operating legally. Shoppers were prevented from going about their business during the raid.
“They wanted everything, they requested for the Zimra file, NSSA registration and evidence that the goods were declared at the border,” said Annah Mhizha, a shop attendant at one of the shop at the complex.
“They wanted to see where workers signed for their salaries to determine how much they were being paid and they also wanted to know whether the shops were owned by foreign or indigenous people.”
Shop owners were given up to today to provide proof they were operating legally or risk having their businesses closed. A Zimra official who was part of the team said most informal traders were smuggling goods into the country.
“You will also find that the majority are not paying presumptive tax, hence our interest,” he said.