The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has admitted it made costly errors when it first commissioned its Asycuda customs system, which crushed last December and caused a logjam, delaying cargo clearance at the country's ports of entry.
The revenue authority says it has since upgraded the customs system and expects to commission it by June this year. Asycuda World enables clients to submit their customs documents to Zimra from anywhere in the world provided that one is registered with the authority and there is Internet connectivity at the place from which one will be transacting.
Asycuda World enables pre-clearance of goods, which entails that importers can clear their goods before arrival at the port of entry as a way of facilitating smooth flow of cargo. The system crushed in December last year, but trying to get the system online, getting hardware has been a challenge for the Authority.
Zimra director of Information Communication Technology (ICT) Shami Moyo admitted that commissioning of the Asycuda system in 2013 was rushed and that the authority had not followed all the right steps to make sure of efficiency.
"We have committed to Government that our target is to have the upgraded system operations by June 1, 2018. We have learnt our lessons in that we do not need to rush, but make sure we turn every stone before we commission our systems.
"We had a crush on December 13 of the Asycuda system, but since then efforts have been made to try and get the system back online. Our first focus was to stabilise the system to get it to the pre-crush state. We had challenges with our hardware and to get the kind of hardware that would accommodate our system was a challenge," said Mr Moyo.
"We have been trying to stabilise the system and I am glad that our major clients are confirming that the system has stabilised."
Mr Moyo said Zimra had slightly optimised the system to be better than it was before the crush, but acknowledged the system was not working optimally and needed to the best state. Zimra has procured servers that are commensurate with its size.
"In terms of focus we are trying to make sure we resource our data centres to be at the level commensurate with the responsibility that we have and to be able to sustain the business.
"We are expecting the delivery of the high end servers this month and in two weeks, we should have migrated our stabilised Asycuda system to the new hardware," Mr Moyo said.
Zimra Commissioner General Faith Mazani said the authority will focus on upgrading its systems to maximise on revenue collection. She said there was also need to develop a compliance culture in the country for Zimra to consistently meet its targets.
"We should improve on the compliance culture, we are trying to make use of data to identify the different sectors that we know are active as given by the Gross Domestic Product figures.
"We hope to have a tax gap analysis that will indicate to us where our risk is and where our gaps are in terms of both the legislation and administration and these are some of the areas we will be working on," she said.