Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Zimra reprieve ‘a huge relief’ for many Zimbos working in South Africa

By Farirayi Kahwemba | New Ziana |

Many Zimbabweans working in South Africa but contemplating a permanent return to their country have hailed the decision by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) to slash import duty on vehicles.

Zimra has significantly reduced the financial burden faced by citizens importing their vehicles from South Africa by suspending some of the duty requirements.

The move comes as the Zimbabwe government prepares to welcome back home scores of citizens whose work permits will not be renewed by the South African government when they expire at the end of June this year.

The South African government, which will not be extending the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) when it expires, has urged those affected to apply for mainstream visas if they wish to continue working in that country.

However, many of the affected Zimbabweans living and working across the Limpopo River are considering permanently returning home as fears of xenophobic attacks from locals – who blame them for a spike in crime and shrinking job opportunities – continue to mount.

Speculations that only those in professions regarded as ‘critical skills’ in South Africa will be granted new work permits has seen many ZEP holders seriously consider returning back home.

In line with the promise by the Zimbabwean government to smoothen the return of those intending to be repatriated to the country, Zimra has revised downwards the import duty they will pay for their vehicles.

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Normally, a person must pay almost 100 percent of the value of their vehicle to import it to Zimbabwe. This requirement – however – has been suspended for ZEP holders returning to Zimbabwe permanently. They will now only pay 14.5 percent of the vehicle to get it through customs.

The suspension is granted to individuals, including their spouses and children, who have previously resided or have been employed in Zimbabwe and are returning to the country after having resided outside it for a period of not less than two years.

One of the conditions set out by Zimra is that the vehicle must be worth R700 000 or less. The reprieve also requires the owner to “report to the nearest customs office once every year, failure of which full duty waived at the time of importation shall become due and payable.”

Tatenda Chitsiga, a ZEP holder who lives and works as a mechanic in Johannesburg, is considering taking advantage of the rebate.

“I have not yet decided to apply for a new permit but I am happy that the Zimbabwean government has taken steps to assist us to import our vehicles,” he said.

“The decision to scrap the high costs associated with importing a vehicle has empowered us because we will be able to plan ahead for our return. It is a huge relief,” Chitsiga added.

“For many with two or more vehicles, like me, it is also comforting to know that I will not pay full duty for one of my cars when I am importing them. The decision by the government to lower the import costs will assist us to settle in when we are back home,” he added.

Tafadzwa Mapanga, who uses his vehicle to travel from South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, for cross-border trading, also welcomed the reprieve.

“I will read all the requirements and take advantage of the discount if I qualify for it,” Mapanga, who also has a ZEP permit, said.