Zimra stalls Harare water project

CONSTRUCTION machinery and equipment worth millions of dollars meant for the refurbishment of Morton Jaffray Waterworks under the $144 million Chinese loan facility is reportedly stuck at Forbes Border Post as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) is demanding import duty although the project has been granted national project status.

MOSES MATENGA

Top executives at China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) which won the contract to refurbish the city’s water pipeline yesterday threatened to stop shipment of additional material if Zimra continues with its demands.

Some of the seized goods include an ambulance, forklifts and several containers of workshop material.

The company’s chief representative, Zhang Xin, told members of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment during a tour of the water purification plant that the project was being stalled by internal fights between Zimra and Harare City Council.

“Several containers with workshop equipment, forklifts and other goods to be used for the project was being kept by Zimra. They can’t give us rebate, but we have the national project status. Maybe there is a problem between Harare City Council and Zimra,” Xin said.

Recently Zimra garnished council bank accounts and seized $40 million for outstanding taxes, resulting in the city failing to pay its workers and improving in service delivery.

“This is a loan borrowed by the government of Zimbabwe for this project. It’s not investment money. This is now affecting our schedule. Our equipment is now stuck at the border and Zimra has been charging storage fees. CMEC should now pay, but if this persists, we will stop shipment of additional equipment,” he said.

“We are only contractors and the government of Zimbabwe should clear the goods for us.”

He also said the China Eximbank was delaying releasing part of the money for the project adding that this was also affecting their schedule.

Committee chairperson Annastancia Ndhlovu (Zanu PF Shurugwi South MP) rapped Zimra for stalling the project through its tax demands.
“We don’t expect Zimra to delay such a project that will benefit millions of people,” Ndhlovu said.

Bulawayo MP Thamsanqa Mahlangu questioned why council officials gave members of the committee bottled water if they were confident that council water was clean. Council officials were at pains to explain why, but argued that their water met World Health Organisation standards.

The $144 million deal has never been short of controversy from the beginning amid reports of rampant abuse by council executives who allegedly inflated prices for goods purchased for the project.

Part of the money was also used to purchase state-of-the-art vehicles for council officials, raising the ire of residents and councillors who claimed the transactions were fraught with irregularities.

The project, according to council, was meant to replace or pipes, pressure-reducing valves and ageing equipment at the waterworks to increase water supply to 80% of the Harare population.

9 Comments

  1. Let the Laws of the Country be Obeyed and respected by all. If a Project is granted National Status, does it mean it is exempted from the Country’s taxes ? These Chinese are just trying to hide behind the finger. With all due respect, I believe the issue of Taxes is well clarified in the Tender Document which was used to award this Tender to this company ? The Contractor is Liable to pay all the Taxes that may are payable. The must not in any case hold the Client Liable for their taxes. Let the Parliamentary Portfolio committee get an experienced Engineer to clarify that before insulting or accusing ZIMRA.

  2. Machinery and equipment is stuck at the border, but the luxury vehicles are in and pending distribution, thank you ZIMRA.

  3. It is not Zimra to blame. The law should be amended to waive duty on items that are meant to benefit the nation. Water treatment is a vital health and survival issue, and should not be ranked together with clothes and televisions. This is a life and death issue, and the government should quickly come to the rescue of the people, instead of sitting back and demanding that Zimra should meet collection targets AT ALL COSTS. Unfortunately the “all costs” will include human lives.

    1. zimra needs to be monitored and regulated before it becomes anti development and anti industrialisation, its bylaws should be gazzetted in order for stakeholders to browse them, now it depends on armbushing stakeholder by quoting laws it strictly keep out of their knowledge. revenue collection and company killing are being done simultaneously albeit in the name of development!

  4. ZIMRA the uncompromising, backward corrupt bunch of clowns Hammering the nails into the Zimbabwe coffin! Rest assured we will meet you in Hell!!!!

  5. Looks to me like ZIMRA is following ZRP’s footsteps of acting like an independant arm from the government. Do they not follow directives from the government to do as they please crafting their own legislation? At the same time, if Harare could manage to squeeze an extra good amount from the loan to purchase a fleet of luxury vehicles for their top management, they should be able to pay the duty. Why should they cry foul only when see it fit?

  6. How come there was no stand off or misunderstanding of taxes for the vehicles? At this rate by the time the project finally takes off, the vehicles will already have been run down & useless

  7. This is nonsense,how do goods get to the border without anyone knowing whats due to ZIMRA? So you are worried about taxes,what of storage that must be accumulating?

  8. SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT

    WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT FOR HARARE CITY COUNCIL
    The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) wishes to set the record straight in connection with misleading and incorrect reports in the print and electronic media purporting that rehabilitation work at Morton Jaffrey Water Works has been stalled by ZIMRA.
    The reports, which were published in The Herald, Daily News and Newsday on 15 July 2014 and also broadcast by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s (ZBC) radio and television stations claiming that the water project has been stalled by the impounding of water equipment by ZIMRA, are totally incorrect.
    The correct position is that no such equipment is being held by ZIMRA either at Forbes Border Post or at any other ZIMRA station. No clearance documentation has been submitted to ZIMRA by the importer or the importer’s clearing agent.
    As such, ZIMRA cannot be said to be stalling the water project when the importation of the said equipment has not yet been brought to its attention for processing in accordance with the laws of the country.

    ZIMRA

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