BY VENERANDA LANGA
MDC legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga last week revealed that individuals and institutions that were trying to bring in sanitary towels and cups for donation to underprivileged girls were failing to do so as the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) was still demanding duty despite Finance minister Mthuli Ncube scrapping it.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga told Southern Eye that she was pained by the issue because she and other female MPs had fought hard to ensure that duty on sanitary wear was removed from the time that Patrick Chinamasa was Finance minister.
“I pushed for removal of duty on sanitary wear and it was removed, but now, there are so many people that are trying to bring in sanitary cups and sanitary towels, but Zimra is asking them to pay duty and I am getting really frustrated,” she said.
“I have even spoken to Zimra commissioner-general Faith Mazani and her response is that she has spoken with her staff, but they are saying that the challenges they were experiencing were that there is no enabling legislation that has been crafted for them to implement that waiver of duty.”
Misihairabwi-Mushonga said the only sanitary wear that Zimra was allowing to come in under the duty waiver were sanitary pads.
“That is nonsensical because sanitary wear comes in different forms like sanitary cups, sanitary panties, tampons, cotton wool and other forms, and sanitary wear will continue to change all the time. So it is ridiculous for anybody to say that the only sanitary wear is sanitary pads. I don’t understand why anybody would try to frustrate donations of sanitary wear,” she said.
In the 2019 national budget statement, Ncube scrapped off duty on sanitary wear.
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It was done through amendments of the Customs and Excise (Suspension) Regulations (2003) published in Statutory Instrument 257 of 2003, where there was insertion after section 9FF of section 9GG, which suspended the duty on sanitary wear.
He said the suspension of duty would be for a period of 12 months from December 1, 2018 to November 30, 2019.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga said it was high time that the Finance ministry came up with the enabling legislation so that donors can bring in the sanitary wear for poor girls who cannot afford it.
Currently, the cheapest sanitary pads cost $10 per packet of 10, and women with heavy flows would need three to four packets per month.
This has left poor rural school girls resorting to unorthodox methods like using old pieces of cloth, newspapers, and in some cases, leaves and cow dung.
Last week, Zimra spokesperson Inzwirashe Muwonwa acknowledged receipt of questions emailed to her, but had not responded to them by the time of going to print last night.