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  • Writer's picturerutendo matinyarare



In Zimbabwe, 90% of all economically active people are in the informal sector of the economy, which contributes 70% of GDP. However, this same sector that contributes 70% of GDP (+$14bil/ 7mil adults, which means a per capita value addition way above the global poverty rate), pays less than 1% of the national taxes according to Mthuli Ncube.

This means 90% of our economically active people are not paying their way in our country.

These statistics are further compounded by estimates of anything between $3bil and $5bil of our natural wealth being smuggled or under invoiced out of the country to put more untaxed income into individuals pockets.

Then we must consider the billions of undeclared imports entering the country and sold without record, to make the problem of tax evasion even bigger than what is stated above.

So, who are these 90% who are not paying taxes? They include tenderpreneurs, artisanal miners, small/medium scale farmers, domestic traders, cross boarder traders, mineral buyers and sellers, real estate agents, farmers, small/medium size entrepreneurs, importers, fuel retailers, land barons, drug dealers, car hijackers, slay queens, slaymen, money changers, exporters; bribe taking customs officers; bribe taking police officers, company execs, pension fund managers and politicians.....basically everyone, as all Zimbabweans shrewdly live on both sides of the formal and informal divide.

It’s also an open secret that a number of leading corporations in the country have also been investigated for robbing the state of hundreds of millions of US dollars in taxes.

Meanwhile, companies like Implats are renowned for shipping millions of dollars a year of undeclared gold, uranium and over seven platinum group metals in their raw ore exports, illustrating that tax evasion is a huge money maker in Zimbabwe.

Innscor, Delta and one other corporation are renowned for monopolizing foreign currency, which they externalize without actually creating exports or any real taxable value.

I won’t even talk about the Indian, Chinese and Greek communities, which are renowned for what can only be termed untaxed, organized crime: money laundering, gold smuggling, ivory trafficking, drug peddling, non-duty paying importation, product dumping and bribery of officials to facilitate the above.

The problem we have in the country, is one of impunity that leaves our government coffers dry, while citizens have huge cash piles that are driving the record levels of black market forex trading, illegal gold buying, the housing construction boom and never seen levels of individual imports of luxury cars, jewelry, clothes, household appliances, machinery, fuel and food.

This tax evasion, fueled by people who have been endowed with land, minerals and license to trade everything that was once traded by only white corporations (gas, fuel and industrial inputs) has made many Zimbabweans wealth through informal trade. These wealthy people then bribe officials to assist them in further tax evasion, which makes the officials part time informal bribe takers. It’s a revolving door between the informal and formal, you see.

These monied hustlers also use public facilities from schools, hospitals, roads, law enforcement, sanitation, water, government offices and even off duty civil servants to make their money. And thanks to our badly paid but efficient military and security services, the peaceful enjoyment of their wealth is guaranteed without paying a cent of tax.

As they make more money, they demand better healthcare, education, social welfare, roads, clean water, passports on demand, national security, emergency services and other public services, without contributing a fair share of their income to taxes for government to replenish and improve those services accordingly.

In time the same people then bemoan government corruption and the state of the nation’s public services. In the interregnum, some end up burning in their million dollar cars or dying like rats on roadsides, waiting for non-existent emergency services because they were looting public coffers that they were not reinvesting in. But it’s not like the others will learn the lesson.

What is the net effect of 90% of 14mil people, pillaging the country in this manner besides the wealthy burning to death in their exotic sports cars because of a lack of world-class emergency services?

How then are these public services meant to be replenished or improved, if 90% of our people don’t pay tax for 60yrs of their lives, yet they don’t cease exploiting the same public resources?

How irresponsible are we as a people, to demand a world class country when we don’t undertake world class duties of paying tax, being loyal to the country, creating solutions for national problems and defending the national brand from negativity and sanctions that impede investment?

If we can’t even pay taxes and undertake our national duties, do we deserve a world class nation or another Nigeria where the poor have had to form Boko Haram and Niger Delta pirates, to forcibly extract contributions from those who are growing fat off the exploitation of national resources?

Rutendo Bereza Matinyarare ZUAUWS.

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1 Comment

Joshua Jaja
Joshua Jaja
Apr 09, 2021

Good observation baba uye wabvunza mibvunzo kwayo!