Permanent number plates are now available at Zimra border posts, so anyone importing a vehicle now buys the permanent plates as they clear their car through customs with temporary plates no longer issued or needed.
Since every vehicle now keeps the same plates for its Zimbabwean life, regardless of how many times it is bought and sold, this means that even commercial importers and clearing agents can buy the permanent plates at the same time they pay the import duty and subsequent owners simply have to pay the transfer taxes and register the ownership change.
All border posts, except Plumtree at the moment but the post office in the town is selling the plates, are stocked with enough permanent number plates as the Government introduces a cocktail of measures to curb crime and make it as easy as possible for vehicle owners to pay taxes and duties and register their vehicle with the minimum of return visits.
Authorities have been impounding unregistered vehicles across the country in an operation that has resulted in the arrest of more than 16 000 drivers of unregistered, plate-less or unlicensed vehicles with many others now hurriedly complying with the laws involving registration, insurance, and licensing laws.
In interviews, the motoring public described the latest move by Government as a masterstroke that will ensure compliance at points of entry and also remove bottlenecks that have previously caused inordinate delays in acquiring vehicle registration plates. Now paying the taxes and registering the vehicle are done simultaneously.
Car dealer Mr Antony Kawondera welcomed the move saying this initiative should have been introduced long back for the benefit of those importing cars.
“This is a good initiative and Government should have introduced it before as a way of solving the number plates issues, and also avoiding the long winding queues especially at CVR offices in Harare where some officials were taking advantage of the desperation of applicants,” he said.
Another motorist, Mrs Yvonne Mupindu, said she hopes that Government will maintain stocks of the number plates at borders. She also noted that driving a properly registered car from a border post will make it easier to defeat thieves that can prey on those driving from the border.
Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona yesterday assured the public that licence plates have been distributed to all ports of entry to meet demand.
“Great people of Zimbabwe, please get your number plates from our ports of entry, except for Plumtree due to other logistical challenges but we have made necessary arrangements with Zimpost Plumtree. There is no need for people to buy temporary number plates. You can now purchase number plates at ports of entry and they have adequate number plates,” he said.
At least 5 000 vehicles are being imported every month and the Minister assured the nation that Government can provide the required permanent number plates.
As of Tuesday, the Central Vehicle Registry had received over 12 000 sets of number plates which will be distributed nationwide.
On his part, the CVR Registrar Mr Saston Muzenda said since the commencement of the operation 5 636 sets of registration number plates had been issued to motorists by end of day on Monday.
“As of January 24, we have issued 5 636 sets of registration number plates to motorists. With regards to new sets, we received 3 750 on Saturday, and then we also received another batch of 12 000 on Tuesday.
“We have subsequently cleared those that have submitted applications to Central Vehicle Registry. We are also urging motorists that are still holding on to their papers to visit the CVR agencies, that is Zimpost and Zimra, where we are going to distribute registration number plates that we have received,” he said.
Recently, 12 post offices and seven Zimra tax offices started distributing the bulk of the 12 183 sets of number plates, with just a small batch going through the CVR as Government moves swiftly to decentralise the issuing of plates. The number of these agency offices has increased with all Zimra offices at the borders now issuing plates, and the post offices have seen Plumtree join the list so that town has an agency.
Soon the CVR will be responsible only for issuing number plates to corporates, Government departments, diplomats, and the replacement of lost number plates.
Private vehicle owners will buy and collect their sets from post offices and tax offices near their homes in all provinces and borders.
In the middle of the month the police launched a blitz on unregistered vehicles after a spate of crimes, including robberies, murder, kidnappings, and rape that were committed by criminals using unregistered vehicles, and at the same time combating the high level of tax avoidance as people delayed changing ownership or licensing their cars.
Police were also deeply concerned by the deliberate disregard of road traffic regulations by drivers of unregistered vehicles and those without number plates.
According to police, there is no special exemption for anyone, including Government vehicles to move around without any registration number plates.