Africa Moyo Senior Business Reporter
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) says it has dumped its combative tax administration tactic in favour of a conciliatory approach whereby tax payers willingly comply with the dictates of the country’s laws.
This was said by Zimra Commissioner General Faith Mazani yesterday in Harare during a breakfast meeting hosted by the national tax collector for players in the telecommunications industry.
“The reason why we called you here today (yesterday) is that we want to build and improve our relationship with you.
“Our desire is to open channels of communications so that we can contribute to the Zimbabwean renaissance under the mantra — ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business’,” said Ms Mazani.
“ . . . we have taken a different approach to our tax administration and as we engage with specialised sectors like the telecommunications sector, we are going by an approach of cooperative compliance.
“Under cooperative compliance, we realise as Zimra that we have a lot to learn from the stakeholders that we are serving and assisting in meeting their tax obligations.
“We also realise the special qualities and circumstances of most of the industries that participate in this particular sector.”
The shift in strategy follows incessant complaints by taxpayers that Zimra was too militant in its approach, with its last resort when collecting revenue being garnishee orders.
Industrialists say garnishee orders were causing company closures, which in turn, left Zimra with fewer tax payers while employees are also thrown onto the streets.
But Ms Mazani said confrontation no longer has a place in Zimra’s new approach to doing business.
“. . . our clarion call is simple: voluntary compliance.
“For it is through voluntary compliance that we expedite economic development, social growth and poverty reduction in our country.
“Our intention as Zimra is not to ‘kill the goose that lays the egg’ but to move towards sustainable taxation, where business is able to pay their tax dues but also remaining operational in order to create other positive externalities like employment creation and reduction of poverty.
“I would like to advise you our valued business partners to bring forward any challenges you may be facing and use this platform amongst other platforms, to have Zimra address your issues.”
To underline the paradigm shift in the way Zimra operates, Ms Mazani immediately requested names of some officials who reportedly visited and harassed Telecel Zimbabwe staffers.
Mr Ezra Chinake of Telecel, who attended yesterday’s meeting, said when they eventually went to Zimra offices to engage the tax collector’s officials, they were made to wait for over two hours before getting audience.
At the same time, Mr Cleopas Kadzimu of NetOne called on Zimra to schedule its “many audits”, which sometimes end up affecting their operations as more efforts end up being devoted to assisting the auditors.
Ms Mazani said the telecommunications sector remains one of the “key economic sectors in our economy”, which should be nurtured for its full potential to be realised.
“Your contribution to the economy through voluntary tax compliance can never be underestimated.
“I therefore, want to encourage you to maintain your status as good corporate citizens.”
The breakfast meeting was attended by various telecommunications sector players including the regulator, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).