Michael Magoronga Midlands Correspondent
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has impounded two Kwekwe City Council ambulances for circumventing import tax, as investigations into the tax fraud involving former Director State Residences in the Office of the President and Cabinet Douglas Tapfuma deepen.
The ambulances, which were donated to the local authority by Cde Vongaishe Mpereri during his tenure as a Member of Parliament for Mbizo, were brought in from South Africa, and ZIMRA has queries on clearance of the vehicles upon entry into the country.
Tapfuma was allegedly involved in importing the ambulances together with 81 other vehicles without paying tax.
Cde Mpereri said the ZIMRA officers had some investigations to make regarding the clearance of the vehicles.
“We bought the ambulances in South Africa using the CDF funds, so the officers have questions on the clearance of the vehicles,” he said. “But I am told that the investigations are almost complete and the vehicles will be returned to council in a few days. We are not there to block the authorities from carrying out their duties.”
Contacted for comment, ZIMRA head of corporate communications Mr Francis Chimanda confirmed the probe, but declined to give more details citing secrecy provisions.
“Please note that the query relates to an individual’s clearance and in terms of the secrecy provisions in both the Revenue Authority Section 34A and the Customs and Excise Act, Section 210, we are not in a position to provide a response,” wrote Mr Chimanda in response to e-mailed questions.
Acting Kwekwe Town Clerk Dr Lucia Mnkandla said council officials were in the dark over the seizure of the ambulances.
“I can confirm that ZIMRA took away two of the ambulances that were handed over to council by Cde Mpereri,” she said. “We are, however, not aware of the reasons behind the seizure of the vehicles.”
Dr Mnkandla said the local authority’s ambulance fleet had been left depleted and only one ambulance was functional.
“We have been left in dire straits as we are left with only one ambulance that is up and running,” she said. “Two others are down, so the ambulances had helped to ease the situation in the town.”