At least 102 vehicles suspected to have been illegally imported were impounded by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) in Harare in the past week as the crackdown on vehicle smuggling intensifies.
The joint operation by the anti-graft body and the tax collector is targeting 2 400 vehicles suspected to have been smuggled in recent months with most of them now being sold by car dealers.
Vehicles netted under the blitz were recovered from Washnet, Emri and Prince Edward car sales and from another dealer based at the intersection of Mazowe Street and Josiah Tongogara Avenue.
At Emri 49 vehicles were recovered while Washnet had 14 cars impounded. The Prince Edward and Mazowe Street car sales each had 19 vehicles seized.
ZACC spokesperson Commissioner Mr John Makamure confirmed the recoveries saying the crackdown was continuing while arrests would be made once investigations were complete.
“Zacc and Zimra are conducting a joint operation to end rampant smuggling of vehicles into the country. We have discovered that there is serious connivance between Zimra officials and vehicle importers.
“We are warning car importers and officials that we will not hesitate to arrest those found on the wrong side of the law. They have prejudiced Zimra of thousands of United States dollars,” he said.
Comm Makamure said the country should have earned foreign currency through duty payments adding that the anti-graft body would soon employ various mechanisms to stop such activities.
“We recently signed an MoU with Zimra to collaborate in the fight against graft and these are some of the fruits. There will be several arrests and this will include high-profile figures linked to these criminal activities,” Comm Makamure said.
Last week, Zimra identified 433 vehicles suspected to have been smuggled into the country and has invited their respective owners to the taxman’s offices for a verification exercise.
Top-of-the range models that include Toyota Landcruisers, BMWs, Jeep Grand Cherokees, Toyota Hiluxes, Toyota Lexus, Mercedes Benzes, Toyota Fortuners, Range Rovers, Isuzus, Landrover Discoveries, Ford Rangers and Audis are dominating the target list.
Other models are Nissan X-Trails, Honda Fits, Toyota Runxes, VWs, Volvos and Toyota Allions.
ZIMRA launched the operation after discovering that several vehicles were being smuggled into the country without proper documentation.
In a statement, Zimra invited the owners to its loss control offices in the capital for a verification exercise.
The owners were instructed to bring the vehicles together with all customs clearance documents not later than November 23, 2019.
Several Zimra officials have been implicated in cases of corruption amid reports that the taxman is seeking to recover ill-gotten wealth to the tune $73,5 million from its employees.
Zimra is investigating 389 corruption cases involving its workers and several of them were exposed by a lifestyle audit carried out recently.