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Ending Border Chaos, Zimbabwe's Tax Collectors Halt One-Day Strike

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority employees are back at work after a one-day strike they called to enforce their demand for a 500% increase in their wages to cushion the impact of hyperinflation that was last seen running in July at 7,634%.

A member of the Authority worker’s committee said ZIMRA staff returned to work after negotiations were opened with the management of the tax-collecting authority.

The strike crippled operations at border posts - sources said travelers and truck drivers were caught in long lines to clear customs while many cross-border traders pushed through the unstaffed ZIMRA checkpoints without paying duties.

ZIMRA Operations Commissioner Tichaona Chiradza said only the Ministry of Finance was authorized to discuss the negotiation process. But he warned that anyone going through ZIMRA checkpoints without paying duty would be breaking the law.

Labor expert Mike Sambo, also national coordinator of the International Socialist Organization, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the job action signals a troubled economy that is affecting workers in all sectors.

Economists, meanwhile, say ZIMRA faces a financial crisis due to alleged corruption by its officials and the government's recent price-cutting drive which indirectly reduced revenue collection as many businesses registered losses due to the operation.

Parliament’s committee on public accounts Wednesday released a report on ZIMRA operations which concluded that it needed to establish better financial controls.

Parliamentarian Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, representing Glen Norah for the opposition faction of Arthur Mutambara, said the panel found the authority had lost revenue because there are no checks and balances on customs collections.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...