NORTON legislator Temba Mliswa has said lifestyle audits by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) should start with high ranking officials, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Speaking at a breakfast meeting yesterday in Harare on the externalisation looters list released last week, Mliswa said he was tired of all the statements of lifestyle audits, as it did not lead to any concrete actions on the guilty parties and challenged Zimra to start with high-ranking officials.
“Do we need the President to say ‘go and investigate’ when we have got all these institutions in Parliament? We sit down, do our role of oversight and when we can see that there is crime here, where are the police or ZACC (Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission)? It seems to be targeted and so forth. You know the ministers are there and it seems like you cannot get there. Go for the minister and let the president exonerate him with the powers that he has. What stops you from that?” he said.
“Why are you starting from the bottom and not the top? Go for the President (Mnangagwa), go to him to account (he has never said no), the Vice-President, and Cabinet ministers that are there, but we are very selective in lifestyle audits. It becomes a talk show at the end of the day and taxpayers’ money is wasted.”
Mliswa was responding to Zimra chairperson Willia Bonyongwe on the taxman’s efforts to ascertain the wealth of some people in society that were living lavish lifestyles.
The call by Mliswa comes as the looters list released last week had no names of government officials despite some being accused of corrupt activities.
Bonyongwe told NewsDay after the meeting that Zimra had conducted lifestyle audits on selected government officials.
“First of all, I would like to say Zimra is not in anti-corruption. We collect tax and when we do lifestyle audits, it is just one of the ways of collecting that tax. What we have been doing are lifestyle audits mostly on our own management and staff, but when we do that on our staff, because it takes two to be corrupt, it has inevitably led to other people. So we have been doing lifestyle audits, but restricting them to revenue collection, not as a core business,” Bonyongwe said.
“Most of those people who are in the limelight, we have actually visited them the only thing is when Zimra does their things, we do not go public because the law does not allow us. So, if we were to come to you, do an audit on you, we would collect money from you and do everything. Unless you go and speak to the Press, nobody would ever know. Yes, we have (done lifestyle audits on government officials) and have got huge bills, some have paid.”
A 2016 report by Transparency International found that Zimbabwe is losing $1 billion annually to corruption, with police and local government officials among the worst offenders.