ZIMBABWE Revenue Authority (Zimra) commissioner-general, Faith Mazani was yesterday grilled by MDC-T Chitungwiza North legislator, Godfrey Sithole, who demanded to know if Zanu PF had paid import duty for campaign vehicles and other materials, which were recently imported ahead of next month’s general elections.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
The issue was raised in Harare during a Zimra engagement meeting with parliamentarians to conscientise MPs about the country’s revenue collection systems.
Sithole claimed that there were speculative reports that Zanu PF imports were not being charged duty. “There is information to the effect that there are campaign materials — vehicles and T-shirts — for Zanu PF, which are coming into the country for free,” Sithole said.
“Why are they exempted from paying duty? Is it within the confines of the law?”
In response, Mazani demanded documentary proof to support the allegations.
“As Zimra, we do not allow goods to come in without paying taxes, but at times, there will be paperwork to show that the government has requested for those goods to come in and then they pay later,” she said.
Buhera South MP, Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF) also requested an explanation over allegations that some Chinese businesses were evading paying taxes.
“Harare is now a city of vendors and how are we collecting taxes because it is no longer the Sunshine City. Shop owners are now selling wares outside without Zimra gadgets recording the sales for taxation purposes.
“There is corruption at border posts with cross border traders working in cahoots with Zimra officials to evade taxes, and some of the culprits are MPs,” Chinotimba said.
Mazani said most vendors were charged taxes whenever they purchased goods at retail shops for resale.
The Zimra boss said generally compliance levels for paying taxes, remittances and submission of returns were very low.
“Of the 511 059 returns expected for the first quarter of 2018, filing compliance levels stood at 23% and 39% for paye as you earn and value-added tax respectively. The reasons for low compliance include corruption, negative perceptions by taxpayers and lengthy prosecution processes, which make it difficult for the authority to bring delinquent taxpayers to book,” she said.
Zimra board chairperson, Willia Bonyongwe said there was need to deal with the corruption syndicates at border posts, which included members of staff and law enforcement agents deployed at borders, but who end up forming syndicates with some corrupt staff.
To deal with corrupt staff, Mazani said there were regular transfers and lifestyle audits.