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Zimbabwe Traders Abandon Beitbridge, Prefer 'Cheap' Chirundu

Douglas Kamuzingizi says he prefers Chirundu border post because of what he believes is the “suspicious re-evaluation” of vehicles at other border posts. (File Photo)
Landlocked Zimbabweans wishing to send goods and vehicles into the country have shifted from their traditional routes passing through South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia, opting for Tanzania resulting in an increase in volumes of traffic through the Chirundu border post.

Tunduma border post that separates Tanzania and Zambia is a hive of activity with mostly Zimbabweans coming into the country to collect their vehicles sent from Japanese car suppliers like the popular BE FORWARD and TRADECARVIEW.

Harare car dealer, Jonathan Banda, used to import vehicles through Beitbridge border post but now prefers Chirundu saying the duty is reasonable.

Banda said at Chirundu Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) officers use clearly laid out bank forms showing the money transferred to the supplier.
He said corruption at other border posts has seen the volume of traffic coming through Tanzania increasing.

Banda noted that at Beitbridge border post the ZIMRA officials don’t calculate duty basing on the purchase price but on their assumed cost price. It is that process that breeds corruption, they allege.

Another importer, Douglas Kamuzingizi, said he prefers Chirundu border post because of what he believes is the “suspicious re-evaluation” of vehicles at other border posts.

Tineyi Gavi added that the other advantage is that at Chirundu border post travelers have a US$300 rebate.

A rebate is an amount paid by way of reduction for staying in another country for a night or more. Those who collect vehicles at Beitbridge border post don’t benefit because vehicles are transported on the Zimbabwean side as they are not allowed to be driven to the border.

Even those who buy clothes and other wares for resell back home, now prefer Tanzania to South Africa because of the quality of goods in Tanzania. They said they have also being forced to abandon the traditional South African route as they risk losing money in Johannesburg to armed robbers.

Petronela Nyajena, who has been a cross border for the last 15 years since her husband died, said it’s a huge but profitable sacrifice to go to Tanzania as a cross border trader.

Getrude Shava concurred, saying there is a high risk of losing money to thieves in South Africa than Tanzania.

But Banda said although it is cheaper to collect one’s vehicles through Tanzania, there is a risk of driving a long distance in mountainous and animal infested forests.

Some unfortunate Zimbabweans have failed to make it home with their new vehicles. Evidence is scattered throughout the more than 2,500 kilometer route which is littered with car wreckages as proof that the terrain is not for the faint-hearted.

For others, the advantage of using the Chirundu border post is that travelers can clear vehicles on their own unlike in Beitbridge where the system forces one to use agents. They claim that the agents are at times engaged in some corrupt network that is masterminded by several ZIMRA officials.

Vehicles with an engine capacity below one-litre are liable to 85% duty while those below attract a 65% duty. According to ZIMRA’s tax schedule, the cost price includes freight expenses and the cost fuel consumed in a foreign country.

Mashonaland West ZIMRA manager, Cuthbert Gwatiringa, said about 500 vehicles pass though the Chirundu border compared to below 50 two years ago.

He refused to comment on corruption allegations leveled against some ZIMRA officials by motorists and cross border traders, preferring just to say the government agency is working hard to improve its operations around the country with officials now being rotated on a regular basis to avoid graft.