CUSTOMS and excise officers at Beitbridge border post and other stations yesterday briefly downed tools and later opted to go slow to register disgruntlement over poor wages, although the tax agency denied that such a development had occurred.
BY REX MPHISA
The development could cripple imports of food in the entire Sadc region, which is handling the bulk of basic food imports into the region.
In an unsolicited Press statement, Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) spokesman Francis Chimanda dismissed reports that customs and excise officers at Beitbridge were on strike.
“There have been misleading reports that Zimra employees at Beitbridge border post have engaged in a strike.
Employees have reported to duty as normal. There is no strike,” Chimanda said in the statement.
“We would want to assure the transacting public that (Zimra) continues to provide uninterrupted service as the borders.”
Shipping agents at Beitbridge, however, said at one time yesterday morning, senior managers manned work stations ordinarily manned by junior staff.
“At the box office, we submit and collect documents. The deputy regional manager, a Mr Mutembu, was receiving and releasing commercial declarations, otherwise called bills of entry. Junior employees were gathered elsewhere,” a shipping agent said.
“It has never happened that a senior man is seen in that office and something was brewing, but some few hours later, the juniors were back behind their desks. The pace was, however, extremely slow.”
A Zimbabwe Revenue Authority Workers Trade Union (Zimratu) official, Lovemore Ngwarati, told NewsDay Weekender that the workers were, indeed, disgruntled about their salaries and general welfare.
“We have been observing this in the last two days and serious welfare issues have been raised by Zimra workers.
They have not communicated official labour action, but we expect them to submit that to us soon,” he said.
Like all civil servants, Zimra workers, who raise the bulk of government revenue, complain about salaries that do not correspond with the cost of living.