The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has doubled down on its assault on corruption among its staff by running regular lifestyle audits.
By virtue of it being the country’s biggest and busiest border post, Beitbridge is the haven for graft at Zimra.
It is not surprising therefore that the audits have tended to be concentrated on the check point.
Presenting a lifestyle audit report to Parliamentarians and other stakeholders during a recent meeting in Bulawayo, Zimra loss control manager Mr Selleck Mapfeka said the agency is investigating three Beitbridge-based revenue officers who built mansions in Harare, but failed to account how they raised the money following a lifestyle audit.
“We also have another officer who built a block of flats and he has since resigned.
The lifestyle audit also revealed that some Zimra revenue officers based in Beitbridge had six properties acquired through shady deals at the border,” we cited him as saying yesterday.
Before the latest case, a former officer based at the border post, Kennedy Nyatoti, made history by becoming the first person to lose assets under the country’s civil-based asset forfeiture law when his US$150 000 mansion in Harare and US$10 000 car were seized by the State.
Nyatoti had amassed the assets through bribes he received for fraudulently clearing immigrants’ rebates for people and entities not qualifying to bring in goods duty-free under the rebate facility.
We are sure Nyatoti is not the only former Zimra official to be sanctioned for criminality.
There must be many more who have received the punishment they deserve.
We think that through regular and thoroughgoing lifestyle audits the authority will be able to not only expose those who are corrupt but also send a message to those who might be tempted to demand and accept inducements from clients for them to bend the rules.
We therefore ask that Zimra intensifies them.
We recall that some time ago, Zimra took a position to move its workers around more regularly from one station to another.
This, the authority said then, was to ensure that officers don’t have enough time to create and sustain corrupt alliances, something that can be possible if one spends a long period at one station.
We aren’t sure if this is being done but we feel that it was effective in fighting corruption, of course when executed as part of a wider strategy.
However, it must be noted that border posts are not manned by Zimra officers only.
This is one very important observation that Mr Mapfeka made at the Bulawayo meeting.
Yes, it is important for the system to be tough on Zimra, but there is also the immigration department at border posts.
There are security officials as well.
Under the present lifestyle audits, officers working for these departments are excluded.
“We need a lifestyle audit for all border stakeholders.
While as Zimra, we conduct lifestyle audits for our staff, others seconded at the ports of entry are not conducting lifestyle audits,” he said.
This is very important and we urge the Government to take this suggestion on board.
Officials from the immigration department and the security cluster must be subjected to regular lifestyle audits just as their Zimra colleagues are.
If these are instituted on every Government worker at Beitbridge, Plumtree, Chirundu, Nyamapanda, Forbes and Victoria Falls the clampdown on corruption at border posts would have become all-encompassing.
We are sure that workers at Zimra offices in cities and towns are subject to the same as well.