By Ishemunyoro Chingwere
A Whistleblower has taken the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) and its Commissioner-General, Faith Mazani, to court seeking relief in a matter involving a $2,4 million tax bill unearthed by the whistleblower.
Zimra, however, did not seek to recover the prejudiced amount but extended an amnesty having initially proved that indeed the firm in question — Glidwell Trading (PVT) Ltd T/A Bhola Hardware — had evaded tax.
On the basis of the amnesty, Zimra, thus, did not pay the 10 percent due to the whistleblower, who has since resolved to seek legal recourse.
In his application, case number 5941/19, filed on July 17, the whistleblower — Geoffrey Masunda — is seeking the court’s intervention to recover the whistleblower allowance “due to him” for unearthing the scam.
Mr Masunda is basing his application on Section 34B of the Revenue Act, which introduced the whistleblower facility.
In his court papers, he relies on Section 34B(2) which states that, “The Commissioner-General may, with the approval of the Minister, award to any person not being an employee of the Authority or a near-relative of any employee of the Authority, a monetary reward for information provided or any measure taken which results in detection of smuggling or any other offence. . .”
In his submission, Mr Masunda notes that “buoyed by such monetary incentive”, he risked his life and limb as he “covertly” collected information to prove that Bhola Hardware was not paying its tax obligations.
Armed with the information he had provided, the applicant submits that officials from the first respondent (Zimra Commissioner-General) carried out investigations which culminated in the discovery of a $2,4 million tax bill.
To his surprise and in July 2018, the applicant submits, he received correspondence from the first respondent advising him that the 10 percent will no longer be paid as the defaulting company had applied and had been granted a tax amnesty.
“. . . I received notification from the first respondent’s office that my 10 percent reward had been terminated on the basis that the company Bhola Hardware (Pvt) Ltd had applied and was granted a tax amnesty. . . . and as such it cannot continue paying me my 10 percent reward . . .”
While not contesting the first respondent’s decision to grant an amnesty, the applicant however submits that the process leading to such a grant was flawed as the first respondent did not follow due process.
At law, submits the applicant, the granting of an amnesty by the first respondent is not an “automatic process” but one that can only be arrived at after considerations and representations of all interested parties and in this case the whistleblower is an interested party.
“At law, determination is an act in which the decision-maker or a person vested with the requisite authority to perform a quasi-judicial function makes a ruling or decision after hearing and considering all the facts and representations of all interested parties,” submitted the applicant.
“Thus, the determination contemplated by Section 34(5) of the 2018 Amnesty law is not just a mere ‘automatic process’ in which the Commissioner-General would just grant an Amnesty to companies without consideration of all relevant surrounding facts.
“It should be borne in mind that when the Commissioner-General granted amnesty to Bhola Hardware, there was already an existing running contract entered into between Zimra, duly represented by the Commissioner -General, and the Whistleblower/Applicant,” reads the application. The Sunday Mail