ZIMRA recovers millions after tightening screws on smugglers

ZIMBABWE Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has recovered $6,1 million after employing random spot checks and physical inspections on all trucks and cross border traders passing through Beitbridge Border following an upsurge of false declarations of goods.

The stringent measures which have created congestion at Beitbridge Border post, have been due traders who have been deliberately falsifying declaration submissions under our pre-payment and pre-clearance facilities, ZIMRA said Friday.

The customs authority has been battling to plug revenue leakages at the border and as of September 10, ZIMRA had conducted 159 searches with revenue recovered amounting to $6,1 million.

During the COVID-19 lock down ZIMRA introduced pre-clearance
and pre-payment facilities for consolidated trucks (omalayithsa) to
facilitate importation of food and essential imports by private
individuals using these transporters.

“This facility has always been available for commercial imports. However, random spot-checks and physical inspections have shown that the quantities, price points of imported materials have been falsely declared, defeating the purpose of Pre-payment and Pre-clearance, which is intended to ensure smooth clearance and facilitation of movement of people and goods. This has forced ZIMRA to enforce the law by searching all the these trucks,” ZIMRA said in a statement on Thursday.

The pre-clearance and pre-payment facility which was introduced around June 2020 to speed up the clearance of goods makes it mandatory for cross border traders to make a declaration and pay duty before they cross the border.

“However, the huge number of false declarations as shown by
the amount of revenue recoveries from each truck has resulted
in 100% physical checks,”
ZIMRA said.

The risk management system in use in Customs provides for
customs intervention for shipments that provide the most risk.
We have noted that almost all shipments under this category have
false declarations in terms of quantity and values.”

The goods in question are mostly groceries – cooking oil, bath
soaps, washing powder, flour and other basic goods.

The selling prices of these goods in South Africa is well known and so false declarations are easy to find out, ZIMRA said.

Beitbridge used to clear about 80 buses per day before Covid- 19 set in. The former bus operators have now joined the omalayitsha and have replaced the buses with rigid trucks.

The facility is also being abused as a lot of the cargo being
brought is commercial cargo but falsely declared as private

“There are huge amounts of revenue leakages at stake, for instance
– as of today, the 10th of September 2020, 159 searches have been
conducted with revenue recovered amounting to $6,1 million,”
ZIMRA said.

“We have designated more search points and increased our staff
numbers and will continue to monitor the situation. ZIMRA continues to consider both our staff and clients in the discharge
of our duties.”