Gift Phiri 24 February 2017
HARARE – The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has declined to respond to
claims by First Lady Grace Mugabe that donations at her rallies were items
impounded at border points.
Instead, the tax collector said the seized goods are stored in warehouses
before being auctioned off or given out at the discretion of the State.
Last week, Grace told hundreds of Zanu PF supporters at her rally in
Buhera North that “there are people who feel threatened when we come down
to meet the people.
“They have been writing letters all over to say don’t give her resources,
including those that are confiscated at the border, which I give to our
The disclosure raised concern that Zimra – a critical arm of the State
tasked to collect revenue for the Treasury – has been “captured” by the
At the Buhera rally, Grace donated 20 000 bars of soap, 20 000 pairs of
20 000 litres of cooking oil, 10 000 kg of washing powder, 5 000 tablets
of bath soap and 50 tonnes of clothes.
Zimra’s board secretary and director for legal and corporate services,
Florence Jambwa, said yesterday in an e-mailed statement: “Goods declared
forfeited become State property and their appropriation is done at the
discretion of the State.”
Her response was silent on a specific question asking how much Grace was
getting in terms of items confiscated from the border.
Jambwa, however, referred to Section 38 of the Customs and Excise Act,
which stipulates that “no goods shall be imported into Zimbabwe without
entry being made and without duty being paid or secured”.
“Where the importer fails to pay duty or to produce the requisite import
permits, the goods are detained by Zimra in a State warehouse to secure
the duty and for safe keeping until payment of the duty due or production
of the relevant permit,” Jambwa told the Daily News.
“The goods are put in a State warehouse where rent will accrue based on
stipulated rates in terms of Section 172 of the Customs and Excise
(General) Regulations, Statutory Instrument 154 of 2001.
“The importer will be issued with a Receipt for Items Held (RIH) as a
record that Zimra has detained the goods.”
Since her dramatic entry into politics, Grace has made huge donations of
basics, including blankets, to Zanu PF supporters.
Grace – who has regularly scorned non-governmental organisations on the
campaign trail for allegedly using aid to sway poor villagers to vote for
the opposition – seem to have no qualms about using impounded Zimra
trinkets to campaign for herself and her husband, who is eyeing another
presidential term in 2018 at a mature age of 94.
Jambwa said “goods detained on RIH shall be held for a period of 60 days
provided that they are not perishable, after which – in the event that the
duty is not paid – they shall be disposed of through a public auction”