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Authorities should act on Zimra

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FOR months on end, The NewsHawks has been reporting on corruption at the  Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) which runs deep and wide.

There is nothing new about corruption at Zimra or government institutions as it were.  In fact, corruption is commonplace in Zimbabwe in almost all facets of life, including churches.

However, that is not good reason for government and people to allow it to become second nature to the public and cancerous to society.

Although corruption and tax evasion, or indeed avoidance, are distinct and separate problems, they can easily become intertwined and mutually reinforcing; they are not mutually exclusive.

If society and the economy are to survive, corruption has to be tackled head-on. It’s never easy, but it has got to be done. The alternative would be to allow creation of Sodom and Gomorrah in Zimbabwe.

As we report this week, Zimra, caught in a series of multi-million-dollar rackets involving whistle-blowers, is refusing to pay its informants, except one – whistle-blowing kingpin Evans Kujinga who has captured the tax collector.

Case after case, Zimra has of late been telling whistle-blowers that they have either found nothing wrong after purported investigations of reported tax avoidance matters or there was no breach of tax laws – all this to just avoid paying informants for corruption reasons.

When it wants to avoid paying whistle-blowers usually due to corruption, after getting their information and using it for self-serving ends, the tax collector and its executives have a repertoire of excuses.

These include misleading claims like saying that the cases were already under investigation or the company concerned has since closed down.

In most cases these excuses are easy to disprove.

In a letter, dated 27 July 2021, to a whistle-blower – who wishes to remain anonymous – behind a case on tax avoidance involving the dodgy sale of Derbyshire (Waterfalls) Industrial Park in Harare, Zimra said it was unable to pay the informer even if they had provided all the details needed as the company was no longer operating.

Whistle-blowers report cases in terms of Section 34B of the Revenue Authority Act (Chapter 23:11) and are entitled to 10% of the recovered amount from any tax avoidance case.

Zimra said the company concerned had been closed. Yet the whistle-blower told it that he knew of many properties that the tax offender held.

Of course, Zimra officials are not interested in that. If they were they would go after the company’s properties.

Whistle-blowers say this usually happens when Zimra officials would have stolen cases and given them to their associates to report to make money for themselves – and then share the proceeds – or have been bribed by companies implicated in tax scandals.

That corruption is rampant at Zimra has been shown by The NewsHawks beyond reasonable doubt in a series of stories spanning months, including the Delatfin Investments (Pvt) Ltd tax avoidance case.

Due to The NewsHawks’ exclusive reports, Zimra ended up moving to garnish bank accounts of Harare land baron Felix Munyaradzi after its final demand ultimatum to his company Delatfin to pay US$12 million in tax obligations had elapsed without settlement.

But there is no evidence it actually garnished Delatfin accounts.

Besides the Derbyshire Industrial Park deal, Zimra has also given excuses and refused to pay its informers in the Second Nominees (Pvt) Ltd case, although it rewarded Kujinga for related matters.
The same happened in the Jinan case.

The Second Nominees case involved a US$680 million tax evasion investigation. The dodgy deal is one in a catalogue of cases relating to Zimra’s corruption-ridden multi-million-dollar whistle-blowing fund characterised by looting of public funds.

Cumulatively, Zimra’s whistle-blowing investigations run into billions.

Zimra’s corruption skeletons also involve Chinese diamond miner Jinan Mining (Pvt) Ltd’s shady US$585 million financial transfers across various jurisdictions, including Zimbabwe, without paying tax.

In both these cases, Zimra executives were caught lying by the whistle-blowers they are still refusing to pay.

The latest case relates to a local property firm which brokered a deal which involved the sale of a warehouse in Harare’s southern suburbs, but violated the country’s tax laws by wiring the proceeds of the sale to a tax haven.

Surely, these cases and many others warrant immediate investigation and action by authorities, especially Finance minister Mthuli Ncube.

Authorities have a duty to act on this brazen and systematic corruption.

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