By Staff Reporter
ZANU PF Sandton branch in South Africa has crafted a proposal of a ‘Dr (Aaron) Motsoaledi Aviation Bill’ which would impose a pollution levy on all air traffic flying over Zimbabwe either arriving or departing from neighbouring South Africa.
The proposed tax on aircraft flying to and from South Africa is in response to South Africa Home Affairs Motsoaledi’s decision not to renew residence permits for Zimbabwe living in that country.
Zanu PF Sandton branch chairperson Simba Chitando said: “Zimbabwean air space is part of its territory and must be protected and preserved from unfair exploitation.
“The Dr Motsoaledi Aviation Bill seeks to protect Zimbabwean air space, and preserve Zimbabwe’s economic objectives, which include promoting the rights of ZEP holders, Zimbabwean truck drivers, and victims of xenophobic violence.”
“The Dr Motsoaledi Bill has no punitive agenda. It merely seeks ‘to preserve and defend the sovereignty and independence of Zimbabwe’ as provided by section 8 of the Constitution of Zanu PF,” he added.
Although the public position of the Zimbabwean government is that it respects South Africa’s decision not to renew the permits, many Zanu PF members are reported to be fuming and have warned of a coming cold war between the two countries.
The so-called Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP) expired on December 31, leaving an estimated 250 000 Zimbabweans at risk of losing their jobs, their bank accounts, and of being deported.
The decision is being challenged in court by the ZEP Holders Association and NGO Amity Africa, which argue that holders of the now-expired ZEPs are entitled to be awarded permanent residence status in SA.
However, according to Zanu PF’s proposed pollution levy, the funds would be used to assist the return of ZEP holders to Zimbabwe, as well as compensate truck drivers and Zimbabwean victims of xenophobic violence in SA.
A portion of the funds raised from the levy would be used to plant flora and fauna in areas negatively impacted by air traffic over-flying Zimbabwe.
The proposed aviation bill also envisages providing tax holidays and various other incentives for foreign aviation companies arriving and departing from Zimbabwe.
This would alleviate any financial burden imposed on them by the pollution levy. All levies on the aviation companies arriving and departing from Zimbabwe would be reduced.
“South Africa was our closest ally for decades, as we – among the frontline countries – bore the brunt of the cost of the liberation struggle,” Chitando said.
“South Africa’s hostility to Zimbabweans comes at a time when nationalism is resurging, but this is a two-way street. Zimbabwe is not without means to respond peacefully to these provocations from South Africa.
“Many of us see this as an opportunity to rebuild the Zimbabwean economy, offer tax incentives to companies based in SA that are fearful of their future there, and start attracting companies to relocate here.
“This may be a blessing in disguise, as we now have to fix the country and create business opportunities and jobs in a way that was never possible under (late President) Robert Mugabe.”
The Zanu PF proposal says the pollution levy is not a punitive measure and has received strong support from many Zanu PF members alarmed at the hostility by the South African Home Affairs Department to Zimbabweans.