Prosper Ndlovu Bulawayo Bureau
THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has, in the first half of this year, suspended 21 officials and recovered $120 million through its anti-corruption drive following tip-offs from members of the public.
Zimra board chair Mrs Willia Bonyongwe reported yesterday that 21 officials had been suspended during the period, while three had been dismissed for corruption-related conduct.
In an update on revenue collection for the six months ending June 30, 2017, Mrs Bonyongwe said the tax authority’s anti-corruption hotline had become handy as Government intensifies efforts to curb corruption, which has been blamed for frustrating economic growth.
“Corruption remains a challenge but Zimra’s resolve to combat it is strong. The anti-corruption hotline received 394 reports. Of these 218 were fully investigated while the remaining cases are still under different investigations,” she said.
“The investigations yielded about $120 million in assessments, 21 suspensions resulting in three officers who were dismissed as a result of those reports. Some officials are still undergoing disciplinary hearings.”
The anti-corruption crusade has contributed immensely to improved tax compliance, which in addition to a blossoming economy on the back of a bumper harvest and increased mining output, has seen first half revenue collection clock $1.7 billion.
This year’s first half collections surpassed target by 2,7 percent and are 9.74 percent higher when compared to the same period last year. Mrs Bonyongwe urged members of the public to be bold and join hands with Government in fighting corruption.
“Quite often people feel helpless to act against corruption because it is now endemic, but this case proves individuals can make a difference. Fighting corruption begins with me and begins with you and together we can make an impact,” she said.
“Notwithstanding all efforts made to combat tax corruption, the reality is that Zimra will never succeed on its own. The fight against corruption must include all crime fighting agencies, the judiciary and everyone in authority.”
Mrs Bonyongwe said the people who made the reports should be proud that they made a difference to Zimbabwe, adding that the money collected will improve some school, some hospital or some road.
She challenged the legislature to enact laws which make it unprofitable to engage in corruption while enforcing tougher penalties including time in jail and fines that take away all the gains.
“The law allows Zimra to name and shame people after conviction and Zimra might just start doing so to deter people from tax fraud,” said Mrs Bonyongwe.