BUSINESS DAILY EDITORIAL|
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority commissioner-general Gershom Pasi is well within his rights to question the abuse of government funds collected by the police through spot fines.
At a time of mounting government debts and falling state revenues amid an unravelling economy, it is necessary that all the money coming into official coffers be channelled to the right causes. That includes income which the Zimbabwe Republic Police Trust is deriving from Marange diamond mining which, it is claimed, has been abused to buy ZRP commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri’s Borrowdale Brooke mansion, complete with a lake with swans, right next to president Robert Mugabe’s residence.
The apparent failure by Zanu PF’s over-ambitious Zim Asset programme to attract interest on capital markets means Zimbabwe must harness all the resources at its disposal. That involves prudent financial management.
This is what Pasi told Parliament, and we hope he meant what he said: “It is time we look at how we run our government finances and have all revenue go through one channel because $3 million to $7 million is collected per month through roadblocks – and we are not talking of what goes into police pockets, but at the end of the month, Treasury wants money to pay salaries for the same police from Zimra, yet we do not get their collections accounted for. We also indicated it will not make good sense to have another agency like Zinara collecting toll fees because they did not have the infrastructure to collect and now we hear they want to increase toll fees. It is another wasteful process and it was better to have our revenue coordinated in one place.”
The Zimbabwe treasury suffers shortfalls running into millions every month. The government needs $140 million monthly salaries. Financial institutions can no longer extend credit after government defaulted on payments to the IMF, resulting in guarantees being withdrawn.
The explosive reaction from the police spokesperson Charity Charamba shows that that they have some explanations to make to the tax man.
Using unparliamentary language (she called Pasi a liar), Charamba refuted Pasi’s allegations. She claimed police collections do not exceed $1 million in a month.
Whatever the correct position is, nobody knows. This calls for immediate investigation by the parliamentary portfolio committee on budget and finance. Since policemen and women are the chief culprits, we wonder who can probe Pasi’s statement that a lot of money meant for the state is finding its way into individual cops’ pockets.
Theresa Makone pointed out the escalation in cases of corruption involving spot fines. Her advice was ignored, not least least because she was a woman and a cabinet member from the opposition MDC. Now that the same allegations are being made by a senior Zanu PF official, we hope the relevant minister will immediately start drafting the relevant statutory instrument abolishing the spot fine system.
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