ZIMRA, sugar farmers relations sour
from REGERAI PEPUKAI in Chiredzi, Zimbabwe
CHIREDZI – FARMERS in Chiredzi, south of Zimbabwe, are up in arms after the government’s tax collecting arm garnished funds in their bank accounts ostensibly to recover outstanding tax arrears.
The Zimbabwe Commercial Sugar Cane Producers Association (ZCSCPA) has since approached the High Court to recover about US$500 000 which the association claims was unjustifiably taken from farmers.
Chairman of the association, Simba Nyemba, said they were “shocked” to learn that Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) had garnished funds from some farmers’ bank accounts without consulting them.
“We were shocked to realise that some bank accounts of our members were now in negative after the tax collector garnished funds. We had no option but to approach the court to recover the money,” he said.
“We approached the High Court seeking an interdict which was granted but ZIMRA is still holding on to the money. The garnished money, if not returned, will reduce some of the sugar cane farmers to mere beggars. This is the money we have been banking on for us to remain afloat hence if its not returned the sugar growing business will never be the same,” he said.
Nyemba claimed that farmers did not owe the tax collector.
“As sugar cane producers we sell our product to Tongaat Huletts and ZIMRA will take its share from there.
“We have been made to believe that Tongaat Huletts pays us our money after all deductions have been made and therefore we maintain that we do not owe ZIMRA any money,” he said
Tongaat Huletts is the country‘s sole sugar milling giant.
ZIMRA declined to comment on the issue.
However, Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said he was not aware of the impasse between farmers and ZIMRA.
“I am not aware of this problem but as government we would want to balance the issue of tax payment and the viability of farmers,” he said.
However, it was gathered ZIMRA is determined to recover taxes owed by firs as the parastatal battles to raise enough money for the government in order to pay civil servants their annual bonuses.
The country’s civil servants, except soldiers, have not been paid.
– CAJ News
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