BY SILAS NKALA
PEOPLE living with disabilities (PLWDs) have called on the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to revise its policies to enable them to cheaply import assistive devices and vehicles and not burden the social welfare department.
Speaking at the 2019 International Day of People with Disability indaba in Bulawayo yesterday, PLWDs said they were being unfairly treated in public transport, buildings and at various government and private institutions.
Soneni Gwizi, a moderator, said PLWDs should live a normal life.
“We must own cars, we should own buildings, we should do everything that anyone is doing and we should not be seen relying on social welfare,” she said, questioning Zimra if its tax system considered them.
The PLWDs said they were facing challenges importing vehicles and assistive devices.
“Zimra, I am a government employee, on my payslip, I pay tax and at the end of the day as a disabled person I have to acquire my assistive devices outside the country using the same salary and I end up with nothing after paying the tax. What is the policy involved in salaries and paying of tax?” asked Tafadwa Matope, another moderator.
Zimra Bulawayo manager Nhlanhla Gumbo said PLWDs were entitled to a disability credit.
“When it comes to salaries, we have what is called disability credit, whereby when we calculate the tax that is payable, when we arrive at the tax for those who are not like you we collect a full amount, but on people like you we further reduce by $600 per month, let’s say you are supposed to pay $300 and we reduce by $600 that means you will not pay anything,” Gumbo said.
On duty, customs and excise official, Makhosazana Kuture said there was a concession for imports such as wheelchairs and other gadgets including those used in cars to enable them to drive.
“If you want to import a car for use by yourself, there is a concession and also there is a concession for cars for the visually impaired,” she said.
However, Gwizi dismissed Kuture’s submission as public relations material which is not there on the ground.
Matope also expressed concern over the stringent measures under which they are allowed to import vehicles.
Kuture said Zimra was a government agent which complemented government policy and the concession, was stipulated at the law and could not be changed.
He challenged PLWDs to lobby government for legal reforms which will ensure their interests are captured and their rights and interests upheld.
“It’s true that the concession covers the cars that are less than 10 years old, that is the law currently according to the policy of government and Zimra has no say on that, but what you can do is to lobby government through your structures to reform the law,” she said.
However, Gwizi argued that the policy was implemented without consulting PLWDs.
Bulawayo provincial magistrate Elias Magate said lobbying legislators to push for legal reforms in Parliament was the only way PLWDs’ concerns could be addressed.
The indaba was attended by PLWDs representatives, Zimra, Local Government ministry officials, Bulawayo City Council and judiciary officials, among