Mthuli Ncube’s Backdated Vehicle Import Tax Sparks Outrage

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By Alois Vinga

FINANCE MINISTER, Mthuli Ncube’s directive to impose import duty on vehicles imported by citizens returning from the diaspora retrospectively has triggered an outrage amid indications Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials are finding it difficult to put the policy into operation.

The treasury boss effectively banned the importation of second-hand cars that are over 10 years old last year by way of striking pre-owned cars off the Open General Import License on the basis that Zimbabweans had spent US$1,3 billion on the importation of buses, light commercial vehicles and passenger cars from 2015 to September 2020.

Despite the policy directive being operationalised through Statutory Instrument 10 of 2022 issued on the January 17, 2022, the implementation of the measures was backdated to January 1, 2022.

Some returning residents who spoke to Business on condition of anonymity expressed frustrations over the new directives.

“Applying the policy in retrospect has caused a nightmare for scores of returning residents who had bought their vehicles prior to the implementation of the policy directive. It would make sense to implement the directive later to avoid such hiccups for some of us who had imported the cars earlier. How can we surely be expected to pay up the duty at such a short notice,” one resident said.

A Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) insider who also preferred anonymity said staffers are confused on how to proceed on the matter amid calls for Ncube to resolve the matter urgently.

“Even as the ZIMRA officers we don’t know what to do with the cars imported prior to this SI but which got here on or after 1 January. Some people will be forced to forfeit their vehicles simply because they were imported over 10 years ago and they owned them for less than six months prior to being a returning resident,” the official said.

Efforts to get clarity on the matter from the Finance ministry’s spokesperson were fruitless.