By Thupeyo Muleya
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (zimra) has started working on new strategies to plug corruption and speed up the movement of cargo through the country’s ports of entry, an official has said.
Speaking to journalists during a familiarisation tour of Beitbridge Border Post yesterday, the new Zimra Commissioner-General, Ms Faith Mazani, said the new strategies were primed to maximise revenue collection.
Part of the strategies, she said, include upgrading the Internet-based Automated System for Customs Data (Ascyuda World Plus), the inspection of specified cargo at importers’ premises and ISO certification of clients under the Authorised Economic Operators Programme.
“We are seized with the issues of corruption and the proliferation of stakeholders within our ports, especially at Beitbridge, which result in unnecessary delays in the movement of both people and cargo,” said Ms Mazani.
“If we take a look at the last 11 years, you will note that as a country, we have not been able to re-organise the border to plug intrusive leakages.
“We are streamlining operations through the introduction of single window programme, where we feed information into one system and the stakeholders can work with agreed turnover times.
“It is important to have a situation where we minimise cases where stakeholders have to come to the border for unnecessary procedures, which can be easily conducted outside the border arena,” she said.
According to Ms Mazani, zimra intended to increase its current stock of electronic seals, which are being used for the Electronic Cargo Tracking System that monitors trucks moving within Zimbabwe, to 10 000.
The seals are however reusable.
“In addition, we have acquired new servers which are compatible with the Asycuda World plus System.
“We have to boost our server’s capacity, improve maintenance and capacitate the human resource component to improve efficiency. As you are aware, we lost some technicians following that forensic audit which saw many people leaving zimra.
“A team of experts has been recruited to handle our Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Further, it is pleasing to note that the new servers were delivered on Sunday and they are being installed,”said Ms Mazani.
Ascyuda, she added, is a very effective system which is being used in over 90 countries.
She said zimra was working on upgrading the Ascyuda system and mobile scanners to the latest modules.
“Both the mobile scanners and Asycuda have not been upgraded for over 11 years and we can’t have such a situation. We need to scale up our efforts to enhance efficiency.
“At the same time, we note with concern the infrastructure shortages which are making it difficult to streamline operations, including the separation of traffic into private motorists, buses, commercial and specified cargo, among others.
“However, (we) are grateful that through the Government’s rapid results programme, we have received the support to pave and re-organise the arrivals (commercial) section,”said Ms Mazani.
She said the infrastructure at Beitbridge border post was not in tandem with the workload and its status as the busiest inland port in Sub-Saharan Africa.
She added that zimra had adopted a zero tolerance to corruption.
“Corruption is one of the things we find in revenue collection and we will not fold our hands. We have disciplinary and grievance procedures to weed out some of the bad apples,” she said.