Zimra officials must lead by example
A trend is emerging at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) whereby its top officials appear to be averse to subjecting themselves to the same values they would want their stakeholders to follow.
It was reported recently that Zimra board chairperson Willia Bonyongwe reversed a decision taken some years back to digitally record their meetings in order to ensure accountability and good corporate governance.
Bonyongwe sees nothing wrong with her verdict, arguing the decision was taken after realising that digital recordings were stifling debate. Really?
Recent reports also indicate that the Zimra Trade Union (ZTU) is in the High Court, resisting a lifestyle audit introduced by the authority to guard against graft.
Specifically, the union wants an order from the High Court interdicting Zimra from continuing with the exercise.
ZTU alleges that management at Zimra and board members were excluded from the lifestyle audit and that no guidelines were issued, while low-ranking members were being harassed for no apparent reason.
If this is true, then the Zimra board and management are not leading by example.
Such double standards do very little to clear allegations of corruption, bad governance and dishonest dealings being levelled against Zimra.
It goes without saying that in an effort to sustain government operations, the tax authorities have become very unpopular for their aggressiveness in collecting revenue on behalf of the State.
Those who are found wanting, have been taught hard lessons. Individuals and companies have had their bank accounts garnished for evading the tax net, while missing Zimra’s tax payment deadline without any plausible reason is treated as a serious transgression, punishable by heavy penalties of up to 100 percent.
The message from Zimra has been very clear — that there is nowhere to hide for the taxpayer, which is why they are making moves to tax even the informal sector and churches.
But Zimra must know that what is good for the goose must also be good for the gander.
Zimra draws its mandate from the Revenue Authority Act and other subsidiary legislation which gives it the responsibility to collect revenue; facilitate trade and travel; advise government on fiscal and economic matters and protect civil society.
This is a huge responsibility which calls on Zimra to demonstrate the integrity, transparency and fairness they claim to uphold before they could demand these same values on other stakeholders.
What has been happening within the organisation gives the impression that Zimra is not practising what it preaches to its customers.
If the Zimra board and management do not have anything to hide, they should demonstrate the highest standards of transparency and accountability. DailyNews