27 June 2014

Zimbabwe: U.S $7 Million Road Blocks Cash, NCA Wants Probe

THE opposition NCA party has demanded an independent inquiry into reports police were collecting and not remitting to treasury up to $7 million from the shake down of motorists at innumerate road blocks on the country's roads.

It is nearly unheard of for government departments, most of them headed by loyalists of the ruling Zanu PF party, to publicly excoriate each.

But police came down hard Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) boss, Gershem Pasi, this week, calling the tax collector "ignorant" and incompetent.

Pasi had touched a very raw nerve.

Under pressure from a government needing ever more money as it struggles to pay civil servants, let along finance its ZimAsset economic programme, Pasi dropped a bombshell when he appeared before legislators early this week.

The Zimra chief said he found it incredible that police should put his department under pressure for salaries when they were collecting and keeping millions from road blocks.

"Sometimes we hear figures of US$3 million, US$7 million, being collected per month from those roadblocks. That is the amount which finally gets to be accounted for, not talking about what goes into the policemen's pockets," said Pasi.

The police hierarchy then hit the roof.

"The utterance is a big falsehood which is intended to whip public emotions against police in pursuance of an obvious agenda," said ZRP national spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba.

"Gershem Pasi is given a task by government which he is failing to perform, hence this blame to cushion his failure."

Despite the police denial, the NCA said an independent inquiry was needed to get to the bottom of the allegations.

"In the first instance the system of allowing police officers to collect and keep funds is not only wrong but also illegal and incorrect," NCA spokesperson Madock Chivasa told NewZimbabwe.com on Friday.

"As NCA we are clear that the current situation is an abuse of power and an arrogant display of disrespect to the people of Zimbabwe.

"We call upon either President or parliament itself to set up an independent commission of inquiry chaired by one of the judges of the constitutional court.

"The commission must investigate all issues relating to the collection and use of funds by organs outside ZIMRA. The findings of the commission must be made known to the public in a transparent manner."

Chivasa said Charamba should also be charged with contempt of Parliament for responding to issues discussed under oath.

"The police have used channels outside parliament to communicate their response to a serious submission made before a parliamentary portfolio committee," he said.

"This move by the police appears to be contempt of parliament. It is also surprising that the police take advantage of a mere press conference to respond to issues raised under oath by a senior state official who has the legal authority to collect and account for state revenue.

"The police must be told that the issue is not as simple as merely labelling the (Zimra) commissioner general 'a liar'."


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