The Herald (Harare)

22 May 2009

Zimbabwe: Zimra Urged to Stagger Informal Traders Tax

Harare — THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has been urged to come up with a staggered payment method to enable informal traders affected by the tax collector's blitz to pay their dues and remain in business.

Addressing informal traders at Mupedzanhamo Flea Market in Mbare -- one of the areas hardest hit by the crackdown on tax and import duty defaulters -- Zanu-PF Politburo member Cde Tendai Savanhu yesterday called on Zimra to consider alternative ways of collecting what was due to the State.

He said the traders had expressed willingness to pay the fines and taxes but the amounts demanded by Zimra were high compared to the profits the traders were getting from selling their wares. Cde Savanhu said Zimra should increase control at the country's borders where the smuggling was taking place and stop confiscating goods from informal traders.

"We are not happy with what is happening at the flea market, which is to us a symbol of empowerment. There should be a proper mechanism designed to enable the collection of revenue and tax without destroying the market.

"We don't want to undo empowerment and employment creation especially now when the country's industry is operating way below capacity.

"I want to urge the Ministry of Finance and Zimra to be more vigilant at the entry points where the smuggling is taking place and not raid the informal traders who are getting the goods from the smugglers," he said.

Cde Savanhu said Mupedzanhamo Flea Market was built specifically as a market for the poor hence the tax regime should be reasonable.

"I understand Government needs money but Zimra must return the goods confiscated so that traders can start trading while a mechanism is being found to enable them to remit taxes to central Government.

"The move that has been taken by Zimra is dangerous as it has allowed a lot of abuse of traders. A lot of goods have been lost as there is no proper documentation of the goods that have been seized," he said.

The chairperson of the Mupedzanhamo Traders Association Cde Rita Makarichi said following the raid by the tax authorities, most traders had lost goods to criminals who are coming disguised as police and Zimra officials.

"We have lost a lot of goods through the Zimra raid and to some unscrupulous people who have taken the opportunity to demand bribes from traders," she said.

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