By Lloyd Gumbo
Eight more Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) senior managers have been suspended after a forensic audit implicated them in shady dealings feared to have cost the national revenue collector millions of dollars.
The suspension of the senior managers, mainly from the Information Communication and Technology department, is with immediate effect and comes hard on the heels of the suspension of seven managers in May, including Commissioner General Gershem Pasi, over a litany of allegations, among them, the unprocedural luxury vehicle importation.
More senior managers could be facing the chop. Zimra instituted yet another audit conducted by Deloitte and Touché chartered accountants, which primarily focused on the revenue collector’s ICT systems and procurement.
The report was presented to the Zimra board this month, hence the latest suspensions.
Those suspended include director of infrastructure and ICT development Mr Tjiyapo Velempini, head of ICT Mr Allen Saruchera, systems development manager Mr Can Goredema and two other officials from the loss control department, one of whom is Mr Benjamin Zenda whose employment was fraught with irregularities as he did not have the requisite qualifications.
Other suspended officials are Mr Moses Madongorere (case manager), Mr Peter Chaparadza (chief loss control officer), Mr Adrian Swarres (head, compliance and risk) and Mr Max Mugari (head, advisory services).
It is alleged that Mr Zenda was hand-picked by Comm-Gen Pasi.
“We are responding to the ICT audit, which picked a number of irregularities, so most of those who are affected are from ICT,” said a Zimra board member who declined to be named.
The audit picked issues to do with procurement procedures and corporate governance that were fraught with irregularities, particularly those to do with upgrades of Asycuda World and SAP (Systems Applications Products) as well as the Tax Management System.
“The prices were too high especially for tax management systems through Inspur, with the prices up to three times normal prices.”
Zimra board chairperson Mrs Willia Bonyongwe was not reachable for comment.
An earlier forensic audit that was carried out by HLB Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants on the revenue collector’s operations resulted in the suspension of about seven managers, among them Mr Pasi, after it revealed endemic corruption, violation of Government laws and poor corporate governance.
The managers were suspended in May this year after it was discovered that they corruptly imported their vehicles.
It emerged that the revenue collector was losing millions of dollars to dealers who processed counterfeit undervalued import documents to smuggle vehicles and other products into the country.
The audit also showed that Mr Pasi and other members of the executive collectively pocketed about $15 million in salaries and allowances in the last three years.
Some of the benefits were unsanctioned.
Tax evasion by members of the executive are some of the ills reported by the auditors.
There are reports of ordinary people who are harassed and forced to pay exorbitant duty on small items, while some business executives, politicians and affluent people use their positions and influence to evade paying duty when importing luxurious goods, including state-of-the-art vehicles. The Herald