The Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority (ZIMRA) has suspended its Commissioner General, Mr Gershom Pasi and
five executive managers.
The six have been sent on paid leave with immediate effect. The five executive managers are Mrs Annah Mutombodzi, Mrs Sithokozile Mrewa, Mr Tjiyapo Velempini, Mr Clive Majengwa and Mr Charlton Chihuri.
In a statement to ZBC News, ZIMRA board chairperson, Mrs Willia Bonyongwe, said the authority has become aware that questions have been raised and criminal proceedings instituted pertaining to the importation of vehicles by some ZIMRA employees.
She said the ZIMRA board has also instituted measures to carry out a forensic audit.
Mrs Bonyongwe also said ZIMRA is the state’s agent in assessing, collecting and enforcing payment of revenues, hence all employees who are tasked to carry out this important function should themselves be beyond reproach.
The ZIMRA board has in the meantime appointed Mr Happias Kuzvinzwa currently Commissioner Domestic Taxes as the Acting Commissioner-General.
“The Zimra board wants to take this opportunity to advise members of the public that the authority now has a hotline to which any corrupt activity by any Zimra employee can be reported. The toll-free hotline numbers are: Econet – 0808190; Telecel – 0732880880 and WhatsApp – 0772 135690,” Mrs Bonyongwe said.
She said already, some stakeholders had taken advantage of the hotline and the Zimra board was grateful for the information being received.
Added Mrs Bonyongwe yesterday: “We have sent them on paid leave. We cannot investigate them while they are still at work. As head of the authority, Mr Pasi was supposed to go as well, so that he does not interfere with the investigations.
“The suspension is not as a result of the Press reports, recently. We have been seized with the matter since March. The mandate we were given on appointment as Zimra board is to fight corruption.
“We have been doing some investigations for a long time. We did not want to rush to the Press before we had some experts looking into the matter.
“We are looking at how the loans were extended to the people, how the money was transferred to the car dealers among others.”
Zimra has been losing millions of dollars to a syndicate of dealers who process counterfeit undervalued import documents to smuggle in vehicles.
Several people, some of them former Zimra employees, allegedly act as clearing agents and have been arrested for prejudicing the State of various amounts of money in separate incidents.
Senior Zimra officials who are supposed to be custodians of customs and excise laws, have reportedly used bogus clearing agents to import personal vehicles.
Some of the offences were unearthed recently after the owners approached Zimra offices to check the authenticity of documents for their vehicles.
In one of the incidents, two Harare men were arrested on allegations of processing import documents to smuggle in six vehicles through Beitbridge Border Post, prejudicing the State of $157 500,24.
Timoth Simfukwe (39) and Liberty Tinashe Mahembe (30) this week appeared before Harare Magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe, who remanded them to May 27 on $500 bail each.
They are facing six counts of fraud for offences committed between June last year and January this year.
Simfukwe is the director of Eftrade Ventures, while Mahembe is employed by Vonlet Trading Private Limited as a manager.
The two are accused of hatching plans to undervalue cars and preparing counterfeit import documents for Chihuri, Mutombodzi, Velempini, Majengwa and Mrewa.
All of them had received loans ranging between $90 000 and $120 000 to purchase Toyota Land Cruiser and Toyota Prado vehicles.
They all handed their money to Simfukwe on separate occasions last year who then used the same method of operation, conniving with Mahembe to process the fake documents.