Foreign exhibitors attending the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) have expressed concern over the country’s stringent laws on promotional and donated material saying this is devastating the book industry.
Speaking during a Traders Day at the Book Fair, publisher Naren Bisseru of VUGA Publishers and Book Distributors of Germany, said customs regulations are too prohibitive in boosting the availability of reading material.
Bisseru challenged guest speaker at the official opening ceremony of the Book Fair, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora, to seriously consider looking into the customs system as a matter of urgency.
Bisseru shocked the minister when he told him that their book consignment was impounded by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority at the airport.
Minister Dokora said his ministry will look into the issue.
ZIBF spokesperson, Blazio Tafireyi, said ZIMRA is acting outside the law since Zimbabwe is a signatory to a United Nations convention that governs the circulation of books in the world.
Tafireyi said exhibitors are not supposed to pay any form of taxes, save for Value Added Tax on books sold at the show.
Bisseru said Zimbabwe is the only country in the world that demands duty on promotional and donated goods.
Tafirenyika said the situation is being made worse by the fact that ZIMRA refused to pre-clear exhibits as is the norm in countries like Zambia and Malawi.
Officially opening the Book Fair, Minister Dokora assured participants that his ministry would not allow the proliferation of book piracy at schools.
He said his ministry will soon send a circular to more than 9,000 school heads, ordering them to stop photocopying books.
The Book Fair whose theme is: “Igniting Interest in Reading for Sustainable Development” kicked off on Monday and ends on Saturday.