Zimra speaks as Omalayitsha cry foul over duty hike

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By Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWEANS working in South Africa have expressed concern over high tariffs being levied on essential goods they were sending home via private transporters, better known as Omalayitsha during the lockdown by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA).

Over three million citizens are believed to be living in the neighbouring countries where a lot of them are fending for their families back home.

However, when South Africa introduced its lockdown measures against the spread of coronavirus, the operations of the transporters were stopped, leaving Zimbabweans to turn to haulage trucks for the service.

To continue with their operations, Omalayitsha formed syndicates to hire heavy trucks to transport goods to various destinations.

They have since expressed concern with the manner with which Zimbabwean customs officials were handling their issues.

They also complained of being overcharged by ZIMRA officials in terms of duty.

Those who spoke to confirmed they were facing challenges to transport essential goods sent by Zimbabweans.

“We are being charged high tariffs and at the end of the day, we can’t pay and move essential goods to intended beneficiaries,” said Maxwell Khumalo who plies the Bulawayo-Johannesburg route.

Zimbabwe Community in South Africa (ZimComSa) spokesperson Bongani Mukwananzi also expressed concern over the high charges being levied on Omalayitsha.

“We have been trying to engage authorities from both sides, Zimbabwe and South African to see how Omalayitsha can be assisted to transport essential goods especially food across the borders.

“We know there is a food crisis in Zimbabwe where most of our compatriots here are bread winners and they are always sending food back home.

“But now some Omalayitsha have syndicated to hire a truck and try to combine their efforts to serve our community here. Unfortunately, the reports we are getting from the Zimbabwean side are that the Zimra officials are overcharging duty.

“It becomes difficult for Omalayitsha to proceed with those food items to the beneficiaries.

“We are surprised and concerned that during this state of lockdown with food shortage in general in the country, we find our own government is the one which inhibits the crossing of food into the country.

“We call upon government to act on this and we are told as well that there is a tendency at the border post for some characters who stop the movement by soliciting for bribes and that level of corruption is making it difficult for food to pass.

“We hope the government will look into it because it is important that people are kept fed in these difficult times,” said Mukwananzi

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) Head Corporate Communications, Francis Chimanda said there were no special permits for movements of goods by Omalayitsha.

He said transporters were required by law to submit manifests containing goods, quantities and names of individual importers three hours before arrival at the border.

“The manifests must be accompanied by a schedule showing individual names of importers, their goods, quantities and values of duties to be calculated and paid before their arrival,” said Chimanda.

He said they should make use of agents for purposes of clearance and that the goods must be properly declared to speed up the process.

“Goods for private personal use which are brought unaccompanied by their owners pay full duty as there are no travellers’ allowances accorded to them,” said the Zimra spokesperson.