Thupeyo Muleya, Beitbridge Bureau
THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has activated an imports relief facility to help Zimbabweans based in South Africa to send groceries and other goods home in commercial trucks through Beitbridge Border Post.
It is understood that the latest move will help most families in Zimbabwe who rely on migrant workers in the neighboring country for their general upkeep.
South Africa is home to thousands of Zimbabwe migrant workers most of whom are supporting their families by sending groceries home through the services mostly of Omalayitsha weekly.
Zimbabwe imports goods worth an estimated USD3 billion from South Africa annually.
However, when Zimbabwe and South Africa started implementing lockdowns as part of a litany of measures to combat the spread of coronavirus, non-essential human traffic including average cross-border transporters (Omalayitsha) were barred from accessing the borders.
The state of affairs to some extent led to food insecurity to those who depend on cross-border upkeep for survival until Zimra moved in to implement already existing legislation to allow goods to be transported in commercial trucks as opposed to small vehicles.
In a recent public notice, the Revenue Authority said people can now send groceries and goods from the neighbouring country provided they meet specified requirements.
“Please note that for clearance of goods/groceries sent by individuals from South Africa please note that the following shall apply: every transporter shall transmit by e- mail to Zimra, a Cargo Manifest not later than three hours before arrival of the vehicle at the port of entry,” said the tax authority.
“In addition, the Cargo Manifest must include details of the transporter, individuals receiving the goods, description and quantities of the goods and must be signed by the driver in charge of the vehicle.
“The manifest should be accompanied by a detailed schedule showing the full names, ID/passport numbers and addresses of each person whose goods are being transported and a full description, quantities and correct values of the goods.
“It is advisable that every transporter should appoint a Clearing Agent who will be responsible for receiving duty assessments and for the payment of the duties prior to arrival of the goods.
“Pre-clearance is mandatory in terms of the law and avoids delays associated with clearance process when goods are already at the border”.
Zimra said under the current set up, no Travellers Rebate / Allowance was applicable considering that these goods will be unaccompanied by the importers and, therefore, full duties are due and payable.
According to one border official, this new system also reduces contact or too much human interface as documents are send online and assessments done in the absence of importer or agent.
In addition, physical checks are being done on risk parameters.
“Under this scenario, the importers send their declarations when the truck are still in South Africa and the goods are assessed and duty is paid. In fact this latest development has improved our inflows from these imports,” said the official.
Zimra’s head of corporate communications, Mr Francis Chimanda, said the decision was arrived at after consultations with cross border transporters.
“There is nothing new in this notice, Zimra is communicating the existing clearance process to ensure the clearance of cargo through Beitbridge Border Post is within the confines of the Customs and Excise Act and its subsidiary legislation.
“Cross Border Transporters were engaged and the requirements of the Customs and Excise Act and its subsidiary legislation were clearly explained within the context of the clearance process for cargo being transported by them,” said Mr Chimanda.