Zimra in the eye of a storm over diaspora remittances

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  • Diaspora readies to lobby Parly to amend laws which curtail ease of doing business in Zim

THE Zimbabwe diaspora around the globe – in particular those based in the United Kingdom – have expressed disquiet at what they allege is collusion among corrupt members of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to “rob” them of billions in potential foreign currency remittances through shipped personal and corporate capital equipment, Zim Morning Post has established.

According to rough estimates, the southern African country has about a quarter of its population (between three and four million) living outside their homeland, all due mainly to a combination of deplorable economic policies and a retributive political culture in place since the late former President Robert Mugabe.

Zim Morning Post understands the case of one Felix Nyamayaro who purchased a Vauxhall Insignia for his then frail late father, with Josephine Nyamayaro, his niece, being the designate consignee.

Procedurally, the sender of a consignment pays the cost of the shipment at departure and then duty on arrival at the concerned border post (in this case Beitbridge) to the tax authorities, Zimra.

Zim Morning Post, however, has it on good authority that when Felix Nyamayaro’s cargo (the Vauxhall Insignia) landed in Zimbabwe, deliberate confusion ensued and between Zimra and some clearing agents, it is presently unclear who changed ownership of the vehicle’s log book to Josephine Nyamayaro’s name.

Initially, the log book was in Felix Nyamayaro’s name.

The above, therefore, can only point to ambiguous manoeuvres between Zimra officials and some agents – not only at the Beitbridge Border Post – but probably also at Zimra Headquarters, ZB House, in Harare.

Those at the Zimra Headquarters are all also reportedly part of the mafia in the “stealing” of these diaspora remittances.

Following problems around her uncle, Felix Nyamayaro’s imported Vauxhall Insignia, Josephine wrote a letter to Zimra seeking clarification on disputations surrounding the car.

This publication is in possession of the latter’s letter to the tax authorities.

The four-paged response by Zimra to Josephine Nyamayaro’s letter reveals how certain sections of the Customs and Excise Act could be manipulated by some uncouth Zimra employees in cahoots with other interested parties to “rob” importers in the diaspora of their lifetime savings.

Of interest here is a section of the Customs and Excise Act which empowers Zimra officials to use a mere delivery note at lading to change ownership of items imported to that of the consignee – any consignee for that matter.

This legal requirement of ownership change at lading without consent of the consignor is not without reparations, though.

According to legal fundis, there is nothing that would now stop the consignee, after their names are registered as owners of the consignment, to turn around and keep the item or items imported to themselves, even without regard to what the owner or owners think.

After all, the law would have legitimised their claim to ownership by registering the consignment in their names!

The above irregularity was also confirmed by Josephine Nyamayaro to Zim Morning Post:

“Zimra literally forced me to accept ownership of uncle Felix’s Vauxhall Insignia at lading, but I declined.

“This is not the first time my uncle has been robbed of a vehicle.

“At one time, a recipient of his Vauxhall Frontera 4×4, one Simbarashe Chirambwi of Simba Hardware in Glen Norah B, Harare, in 2016 collaborated with some Zimra officials and illicitly tookover uncle’s vehicle in broad day light.”

Lastly, sources with inside knowledge of Zimra operations have alleged brinkmanship between the consignee and tax officials over the consignment, something which may at times eventually lead to the imported items being unnecessarily “impounded”.

Some people close to Zimra also told Zim Morning Post that almost all of the goods impounded that way are then initially offered to top and middle Zimra management for the right to refuse at ridiculous prices, before they are then disposed of to the public.

But it is such bad laws as would allow for the use at lading of a mere bill to effect change of ownership of goods by whoever is mandated to receive them, which makes mockery of the mantra: Zimbabwe is open for business.

In February the World Remit, a vehicle through which huge sums of money move from country to country, revealed that Zimbabwe was ranked among one of the top five beneficiaries of international remittances in Africa for 2019, something the country could harness to its fullest advantage

Zim Morning Post talked to several people currently domiciled in the diaspora, asking what they wished to see done in the country to ensure the safety of their investments.

A middle-aged woman from Merseyside, England, who only identified herself as Sharon, said:

“Many of my friends want to invest back home, but the thing is with the prohibitive investment laws.

“Authorities back home should put in place legislation which must not allow for opportunists to pounce on our sweat.”

Another Zimbabwean in Manchester – who said he arrived in England in 1988 and only identified himself as Chimhau, said: “Some of the laws in Zimbabwe were designed to loot from the diaspora.

“There is a need for Parliament to overhaul the Customes and Excise Act in order to maximise on investment opportunities by those in the diaspora.

“We will definitely lobby Parliament to that effect.”

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission has promised to get to the bottom of the Josephine-Vauxhaul Insignia issue.

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