The modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post has started improving the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority’s (Zimra) operating efficiencies, the authority’s acting Commissioner-General Ms Regina Chinamasa has said.
In an interview during a breakfast meeting held with stakeholders recently under the theme; “#I’mForZero”, referring to the need for zero tolerance to corruption, Ms Chinamasa said the upgrading of Beitbridge and other ports of entry and exit was long overdue.
“Discussions around the modernisation of the Beitbridge Border Post and other ports of entry and exit is something that has been spoken about for over a decade,” said Ms Chinamasa.
“When we see it coming into fruition, it then helps us to meet our mandate of revenue collection and the facilitation of trade and travel.
“As Zimra, we have been daunted with issues of corruption and inefficiencies, and largely the infrastructure challenge was causing this.”
At the new freight terminal at Beitbridge Border Post, where they are clearing commercial cargo, Zimra was “seeing efficiencies coming”.
Ms Chinamasa said the separation of traffic into commercial, buses, and light motor vehicles had helped address challenges for each category of travellers and importers and exporters based on specific needs.
The new freight terminal at Beitbridge Border Post was opened in October last year.
It is part of the US$300 million massive infrastructure project that the Government is implementing in partnership with the Zimborders Consortium under a 17,5-year “build, operate and transfer” concession.
The project is being rolled out in three phases with the freight terminal, ICT facilities and roads in phase 1, the buses and light motor vehicles terminals in phase 2, and for phase three the off-site works including the construction of 220 staff houses, an 11,4 megalitre water reservoir, a new fire station, a new animal quarantine plant and the upgrading of water and sanitation facilities in Beitbridge town.
Ms Chinamasa said Zimra had embraced digitalisation that removes the human interface after realising, over time, that too much interaction between clients and staffers was creating room for corruption.
“Once you remove them, it comes as a strong migratory strategy for us and across the globe to reduce corrupt activities, and we will continue putting in other measures to bring zero corruption to Zimra,” she said.
“Digitalisation of service is one of our strongest anchors in fighting corruption.”
It was critical for Zimbabweans to work together more closely in sharing vital information about curbing corruption, said Ms Chinamasa.
Corruption and tax evasion threatened the country’s economy and the quality of people’s lives.
Corruption was one of the biggest non-tariff barriers that made Zimbabwean products less competitive on the international market and eroded investor confidence.
Zimra director of ICT Mr Shami Moyo said the border post was being fully automated and Zimra will be using drones, cameras and more paperless transactions.
Presently, they are finalising logistical issues to fully use a single-window payment system to cut time spent at the border.
“The idea is to go hi-tech and use more of the prepayments and pre-clearance systems. People must spend as little time as possible to go through this port of entry,” said Mr Moyo.
At the moment, the border is running with two service providers, Liquid Telecoms and TelOne, to make sure there is continuous service.
Minister for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Matabeleland South Cde Abednico Ncube, who was represented by the province’s Permanent Secretary for Devolution, Ms Lathiso Dhlamini, said the Beitbridge Border Post was the artery and economic hub for all strategic economic activities in Zimbabwe and the Sadc region.
“To that effect, the topic on the need to eradicate corruption cannot be downplayed as it threatens our quality of life, economy, our societal fabric, and the future of generations to come,” he said.