The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) says seizure of contraband has risen significantly over the past few days after it tightened screws on cross-border traders involved in smuggling of goods across the country’s border posts.

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Zimra spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said the exercise involved Customs officials and State security agents, and urged all traders to comply with the authorities in the searchfor undeclared contraband.

“Law and order currently prevails at the border post as seizure of contraband over the last few days has risen from an average of one to seven per day due to Zimra’s vigilant enforcement of Customs clearance procedures. Where there are any taxes or duties due which remain unpaid, Zimra is empowered in terms of the law to utilise a number of recovery measures, including seizures, to enforce compliance amongst truant clients,” Ndoro said.

“We have a case of some traders that were not willing to have their vehicles searched by Zimbabwe Revenue authority (Zimra) who wanted to demonstrate, resulting in some forcing their way out without following Customs procedures and formalities.

“The State security forces who have been aiding and assisting us in maintaining law, order and security at the various ports of entry and exit fired warning shots to deter unruly elements from unlawful conduct. So clients should comply with regulations to avoid inconveniences.”

Ndoro said the authority will not hesitate to confiscate goods where taxes or duties remain unpaid.

“Where there are any taxes or duties due which remain unpaid, Zimra is empowered in terms of the law to utilise a number of recovery measures, including seizures, to enforce compliance amongst truant clients.

“In an article entitled Why People Pay Taxes: Tax Compliance and Enforcement, one Slemrod pointed out that high tax compliance is necessary for efficiency and equity, as well as for the development of social capital. Indeed, let us cultivate a culture of voluntary compliance, as we rebuild the economy of our country, he added.

Zimbabwe Crossborder Traders’ Association secretary general Augustine Tawanda said he was yet to receive reports of the chaos at Beitbridge border post.

“I haven’t received such information but if there was chaos, these are not our members, but ava ndivana Omalayitsha who usually refuse to comply with the authories. Most of our members use buses in their businesses, so how can a transport operator refuse to pay?” Tawanda said.

The seizure came at a time when Zimbabwe has become a destination for dangerous drugs, mainly from South America, Asia and other parts of Europe.

Many people, particularly in urban areas, have become drug addicts due to the proliferation of illicit substances. It is understood that some tankers were now facilitating drug smuggling into Zimbabwe, a revelation that requires security agents and the Zimra patrol team to be always alert.

Government says at least $1 billion is lost every year through smuggling.

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