The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has said the introduction of the 100 percent searches on goods being imported from South Africa has helped to reduce intrusive leakages and improved revenue collections.
In the last few days trucks used mainly by cross-border transporters commonly known as omalayitsha have been piling up at Beitbridge where Zimra has tightened screws on smuggling activities.
The Revenue Authority activated an imports relief facility to help Zimbabweans based in South Africa to send groceries and other goods home in commercial trucks through Beitbridge Border Post.
South Africa is home to thousands of Zimbabwean migrant workers, most of whom are supporting their families by sending groceries home through the services mostly of omalayitsha weekly.
The Zimbabweans are putting together goods and sending them home in trucks with the help of omalayitsha under the consolidated cargo facility.
Zimbabwe imports goods worth an estimated US$3 billion from South Africa annually.
Zimra’s Head Corporate Communications, Mr Francis Chimanda said yesterday that the authority was concerned with the rampant increase in cases of under declaration by those shipping goods under the consolidated cargo facility.
He said between June 1 and September 7 they intercepted 1 256 rigid trucks for various non-compliance offences and collected a total of $19,6 million in additional revenue at Beitbridge border alone.
“It is correct that every consolidated truck (omalayitsha) is searched because all their declarations are incorrect as far as the quantities and values are concerned.
“The risk management system in use in Customs provides for customs intervention in shipments that provide the most risk. We have noted that almost, if not all, shipments under this category have false declarations in terms of quantities and values,” he said.
Mr Chimanda said they were clearing an average of 16 rigid trucks carrying mostly groceries comprising cooking oil, bath soaps, washing powder and flour and at times furniture among other assorted goods daily.
He said the new facility of pre-clearance and prepayment has had a huge impact on revenues from omalayitsha.
Mr Chimanda said before the lockdown in March 2020, this sector (omalayitsha) contributed little to the fiscus.
The means transport that they used then (small pick-ups and huge trailers), he said, made it difficult to enforce searches and duty payments.
“The current scenario makes it mandatory for every omalayitsha to make a declaration and pay duty before they cross the border. There is no false claim to rebate as these goods are unaccompanied by their real owners.
This means that now everyone is paying customs duty. However, it is the issue of correct amount which is not being paid which we are addressing,” said Mr Chimanda.
He said they had noted that most importers were making false declaration believing that because they would have paid a small amount of duty, they will not be subjected to further compliance checks.
Mr Chimanda said Zimra had also discovered an increase in the number of commercial consignments which are disguised as consolidated private imports.
Such good, he said require submission of a bill of entry and this then delays finalisation of the processes.
“In the past those who used light vehicles for shipments used the false claim of Travellers’ Rebate using people in and around Beitbridge. This is no longer possible since no private persons are crossing the border due to the lockdown regulations in both countries,” said Mr Chimanda. -Chronicle