By Thupeyo Muleya
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has dismissed claims by a South African government minister that congestion at Beitbridge Border Post is attributable to the use of a manual system to clear commercial cargo.
Zimra yesterday said it is using the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA World) to process imports and exports of private and commercial cargo.
South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi on Wednesday told journalists in Pretoria that the congestion at Beitbridge was being worsened by the unavailability of an automated system on the Zimbabwean side, to clear commercial cargo.
“It is a well-known fact that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) systems are fully automated and can process many trucks per hour on any one day while the Zimbabwe systems are largely manual and can process only 20 trucks per hour, at most 30 at peak performance,” said Dr Motsoaledi.
He continued: “The South Africa side cannot send more trucks than the Zimbabwean can handle.
“When truckers leave the holding area to get hastily to the border with the vain hope that they’ll put pressure on the SA authorities to process them as quickly as possible, they are expecting a miracle because the system works in a cooperative way like a relay race.”
However, it emerged that the delays referred to were caused by the mandatory Covid-19 testing on the South African side and the curfew imposed by the South African authorities.
Zimra yesterday said the claims by Minister Motsoaledi were unfounded considering that the revenue collector is using the ASYCUDA World, which is the highest version currently available.
“The clearing system is therefore highly automated and supports a number of high-end efficient processes. The statement referred to above is therefore not factual and unfounded,” said Zimra spokesperson, Mr Francis Chimanda.
He said under the current setup, all export and import cargo is pre-cleared by agents who lodge their declarations online through the Internet-based system from any smart device from their homes or offices, before arrival of the goods.
The process, Mr Chimanda said, allowed clearing agents to electronically attach the required supporting documents such as invoices, certificates of origin and consignment notes.
“These declarations are electronically processed at the various remote Document Processing Centres (DPC) inland which operate 24 hours a day.
Besides the declarations, transporters can now also lodge cargo manifests electronically on the same platform. Once the declarations are processed and passed as correct, clearing agents can effect release of the goods electronically without zimra intervention,” he said.
Mr Chimanda said incoming cargo was authorised to cross into Zimbabwe by way of notification once these electronic processes had been completed.
On arrival in Zimbabwe, the cargo was routed through various dedicated channels in coordinated processes that included scanning, physical examination and electronic sealing in the case of cargo in transit.
He said traffic channelling and physical examination, which was minimal because of a comprehensive risk management system, were the only manual processes effected on cargo.
“On the other hand, cargo exiting Zimbabwe, which has also been electronically pre-cleared, spends time in Zimbabwe awaiting acceptance into South Africa, causing the long queues that have been evident in the past weeks.
“The foregoing illustrates the high levels of automation and efficiencies that zimra has reached and discounts the misconception that we are clearing goods manually and that this is the cause of delays,” said Mr Chimanda. The Herald