IT is an undeniable fact that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government desperately needs to raise money to finance its operations.
However, we believe the regime ought to have properly accounted for the little revenue it has collected and plugged gaping holes in the revenue collection system before swooping on almost everyone demanding a 2% per dollar tax on every electronic transaction.
With the increase in the electronic transaction tax, Zimbabwe now possibly has the highest marginal tax on the continent and for a country with impoverished citizens, it is not only a manifestation of insensitivity by the government, but rather cruel. Even pensioners are not spared.
Clearly, without its own currency, government forced citizens to embrace plastic money after it had failed to meet the country’s cash demands.
But please spare a thought for the few workers that remain in formal jobs, who after coughing up Pay As You Earn, Aids Levy and Value-Added Tax, among others, now find themselves burdened with another tax on any electronic transaction, not to mention bank charges for the transfer.
This is, indeed, the worst nightmare that Zimbabweans are going through everyday and to the “Listening President” that Mnangagwa says he is, there is no better way of destroying your people “slowly” than this.
Regrettably, the new tax regime introduced by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube two weeks ago without consultation when he announced the Transitional Stabilisation Programme has also sparked a wave of price increases and it is the consumer, who is bearing the brunt.
Furthermore, the 2% tax does not spare senior citizens, widows and other lowly-paid workers, who under normal circumstances should be cushioned under the government’s social safety net programmes.
Is this not the height of impudence and stinking irony?
Instead of introducing the new tax, Ncube should have looked at other ways of empowering the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to raise funds.
It is an open secret that many companies are defaulting in paying tax, as much as there are leakages within the system, resulting in Treasury losing millions of dollars in potential revenue.
We believe that if efforts to receive such monies are made, that will help government stop overburdening its poor majority citizens who have suffered long enough under the Zanu PF yoke.
Government must account for every cent collected from citizens, plug loopholes through which millions, if not billions of dollars, are being siphoned by the ruling elite, their acolytes and surrogates, before coming back for more from ordinary Zimbabweans.
Zimra needs a shake-up. Who plundered the whistle-blower fund and where are the culprits? Still sitting in their cosy offices and we make public pronouncements that we are fighting graft?
One way could be to reactivate the whistle-blower facility, instead of heeding to Zimra’s call to stop it because the revenue authority has been plundering the same facility at the expense of the people who were tipping it off to ensure monies were recovered.
This kind of facility in fighting corruption has worked wonders in other countries, having raked in over $4 billion for the world’s biggest economy, the United States in 2006. Other countries like Fiji actually pay handsome allowances of 30% to whistleblowers after recovering undeclared tax revenue.
But with Zimbabwe, corruption within Zimra has realised the worst outcomes out of an otherwise good intention.
Complaints by some whistleblowers that are now before the courts all but show how the facility has been abused and looted by the tax collector.
We urge Treasury to introduce mechanisms to monitor the facility and make sure it is fully functional, with timeous investigations being made on reported cases and whistle-blowers being paid on time.