By Michael Magoronga
The Kwekwe City Council is battling to repossess two ambulances that were impounded by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) for allegedly circumventing import tax, as the local authority seeks to beef up its fleet at a time the country is on high alert for coronavirus (Covid-19) cases.
Kwekwe is operating with only one ambulance which is expected to service the three local authorities, Kwekwe, Redcliff and Zibagwe Rural District Council, that fall under Kwekwe District.
Zimra last year impounded two Kwekwe City Council ambulances for circumventing import tax, as investigations into the tax fraud charges involving former Director State Residences in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Douglas Tapfuma deepened.
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 queried the clearance of the vehicles.
Tapfuma who was arrested over the matter, was allegedly involved in importing the ambulances together with a number of other vehicles without paying tax.
Kwekwe Acting Town Clerk, Dr Lucia Mnkandla said they have since written to the tax authorities seeking that the ambulances be released.
“We have made a passionate plea to Zimra to help release the ambulances they impounded last year. Our people will perish and we need to be prepared in case the Covid -19 cases spread to this part of the country,” she said.
Kwekwe District Development Co-ordinator and co-chair of the district taskforce on Covid-19, Mr Fortune Mpungu, said they were going to assist the local authority recover the vehicles.
“Kwekwe City should be assisted to get back two ambulances that were impounded by Zimra. The district has three local authorities relying on those ambulances and we are doing everything in our power to try and assist in the recovery of the ambulances,” said Mr Mpungu.
Meanwhile, the district has set aside Mbizo 16 Clinic as a referral centre in the event Covid-19 cases are recorded.
The former beerhall which was converted into a health facility last year, has a capacity of accommodating 15 patients. Dr Mnkandla, however, appealed for assistance from well-wishers to help spruce up the facility.
“We are appealing for donations in terms of beds and linen as well as other required equipment. We also encourage companies to come on board through corporate social responsibility,” she said.
This comes as the local authority is the process of converting another beerhall, Garandichauya into an infectious disease hospital.
The local authority, through the Civil Protection Unit (CPU), has since roped in the services of the Zimbabwe National Army for the speedy completion of the health facility. Sunday News