Zimra busts smuggling syndicate

Africa Moyo Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), which is deepening its battle against corruption and smuggling, seized an assortment of goods worth thousands of dollars at the Beitbridge Border Post last weekend.

The bulk of the confiscated goods are restricted from importation under Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016.

Government introduced SI 64 of 2016 on July 1, 2016 in a bid to curb the influx of cheaply priced products, whose availability in the country was throttling the revival of the local industry.

Under SI 64 of 2016, Government restricted the importation of 43 products including cooking oil, building materials and dairy products, among others, to allow the local industry to recover and boost capacity utilisation which was averaging 30 percent.

Some of the goods seized by the national tax collector at Beitbridge include several boxes of Maq washing powder, Dragon energy drinks, Ellis Brown coffee creamers, Frimax snacks and D’lite cooking oil.

The value of the products is yet to be ascertained.

Zimra acting head (of) corporate communications Mr Taungana Ndoro confirmed to The Herald Business yesterday that the taxman intercepted the goods during an operation designed to stem smuggling and promote the religious payment of duty.

“Zimra carried out an operation last weekend at Beitbridge Border Post meant to intensify enforcement measures to curb smuggling and encourage adherence to customs procedures and formalities,” said Mr Ndoro.

“The operation resulted in the seizure of loads of controlled and prohibited goods at Beitbridge Border Post.”

Smuggling of goods, mainly basic commodities, has become rampant in the last few months as enterprising Zimbabweans want to earn hard cash from trading the products on the streets and in tuck-shops, at ridiculously low prices compared to supermarket chains.

Previously, some individuals were smuggling fuel but the prevalence of such cases has declined following the introduction of electronic cargo tracking.

The law demands that importers and ordinary people coming through national borders, must follow proper customs clearance procedures which involve declaring goods they will be carrying into Zimbabwe.

Depending on each case and in terms of the law, duty and taxes may or may not be payable.

Mr Ndoro said in cases where there are any taxes or duties that remain due and unpaid, Zimra is empowered in terms of the law to utilise a number of recovery measures including seizures to enforce compliance with the law.

“Where goods are imported into the country without the necessary permits, Zimra is empowered to hold those goods pending production of the necessary permits.

“Zimra also has a mandate to ensure that no prohibited goods and substances are imported into the country. Where such are discovered during the clearance process, they are seized and confiscated in terms of the governing laws.”

Mr Ndoro said citizens, particularly importers, should develop a culture of voluntary compliance and declare their goods as well as obtain the requisite permits required for controlled goods.

Last year, Zimra collected $3,7 billion against an annual revenue target of $3,4 billion.

This was achieved on the back of the implementation of revenue enhancement measures such as automation, (cargo and baggage scanning, fiscalisation and electronic services), VAT refunds audits, risk based audits, intensified post clearance audits, increased staff supervision, recruitment and training to increase human capital capacity and the continued fight against corruption.

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