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New Customs Regulations Devastate Zimbabweans

Cross border transport operators commonly known as omalayitsha are set to be seriously affected by the new regulations.

Some Zimbabwean cross border traders have criticized the government’s decision to cut travelers’ rebate from $300 to $200 saying it will further erode their ability to purchase affordable goods across the borders.

They argue that the government is milking dry an already overburdened taxpayer instead of creating a conducive climate to attract foreign direct investment.

They expressed dismay in VOA Studio 7’s Livetalk show that such moves will hurt most cross border traders, who are struggling to have a decent meal a day due to the current harsh economic conditions in the country.

Denzel Dube, who has been working in South Africa for several years, said, “This is not acceptable because our families back home depend on goods that we buy here and send home.

“Now, there is no way that we will use cross border transport operators to ferry our goods because the goods will be highly taxed and the operators will run out of business.”

But Denford Mutashu of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers commended the government for introducing the new regulations saying the move will promote the production and selling of local commodities.

Mutashu said some exports were crippling locally-produced commodities.

The latest move comes barely a year after the government removed rebate on basic commodities bought outside the country.

Indications are that cross border transport operators commonly known as ‘omalayitsha’ will be seriously affected by this move. They ferry goods collected from Zimbabweans living in South Africa, Botswana and other nations.

Statutory Instrument Number 148 of 2015 (Customs and Excise (General) (Amendment) Regulations, 2015 (No. 80) issued recently by the Ministry of Finance stipulates that travelers' rebate will only be granted to pedestrians and travelers using private vehicles.

Individual travelers used to enjoy the rebate whether they used commercial transport, buses or small cross border transport operators.

Under the new regulations, all travelers using small cross border transport or buses with huge trailers and carrying goods of a commercial nature no longer qualify for rebate.