Zimbabwe: Chiefs, Zinara Clash Over Toll Exemption

22 January 2020

Traditional chiefs, who are WWW from paying toll fees when travelling in their Government-allocated vehicles, now want the exemption to include private vehicles.

Zinara this year resolved to exempt only vehicles that were allocated to traditional leaders by Government from paying toll fees, doing away with the old open-ended system which Zinara reckons was being abused by the chief's relatives and others.

In a letter to the Secretary for Local Government and Public Works, Mr Zvinechimwe Churu, Zinara acting chief executive officer, Engineer Moses Chigonyati, noted that the change in system was designed to curb abuse of exemptions by traditional leaders.

"Traditional chiefs are exempt from paying toll fees. Previous exemptions were by way of cards that were issued and would be presented to the cashier at the tollgate who would then process free passage," said Eng Chigonyati.

"We note that this arrangement exempted the person from paying toll fees instead of the vehicle. It created loopholes where any vehicle carrying a chief would request free passage. There are likely issues of abuse where the cards were given to undeserving people or relatives to use at tollgates," said Eng Chigonyati.

"We advise that there has been a shift in policy as regards chiefs' exemptions where Zinara will in 2020 exempt their allocated Government vehicles. We are therefore requesting a list of chiefs and their Government allocated vehicle registration numbers for exemption processing in the system," added Eng Chigonyati.

He asked the ministry to communicate the decisions to all traditional leaders across the country "to avoid inconveniences at our tollgates when vehicles not exempted are denied passage".

But traditional leaders attending the National Council of Chiefs' strategic planning workshop in Mutare last week felt belittled by Zinara.

"This is an insult," said the council's president, Chief Fortune Charumbira. The traditional leaders, he said, want total exemption from toll fees.

"Some of our chiefs here have the capacity to buy their own vehicles. Does this mean that when they use such a vehicle and not the Government allocated one they are supposed to pay toll fees," fumed Chief Charumbira.

Traditional leaders, historically, are considered the "owners" of the land and consider the Zinara notice as a violation of their rights.

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