We all know the
lie line that our government, led by the Fiscal Authorities ( Ministry of Finance) and Monetary Authorities, likes to feed us: The bond note, RTGS balances/Ecocash and the actual United States Dollars are one and the same thing. Well ZIMRA’s Public Notice 45 of 2018 seems to contradict all that.
What the public notice says
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has noticed that there are businesses that are trading, withholding and collecting VAT, PAYE, Capital Gains Tax and other taxes in multi-currencies. Following this observation, ZIMRA has found it necessary to clarify that these businesses should remit taxes in the specific currencies in which they collect them without conversion to RTGS, bond notes, local point-of-sale and mobile money. Clients can remit their multi-currency taxes to ZIMRA through the following FCA Nostro (USD) accounts:
ZIMRA Goes on to list these accounts and the statement continues after that.
Clients wanting to remit in hard currencies other that the USD can enquire with the above listed banks for the appropriate FCA Nostro accounts.
It would appear some currencies are more equal than others
Early this year in the case of the State vs Kumbulani Davi the state failed to prove that a business receiving its payment in bond notes instead of real USD was a crime. After all if someone owes me money I should not really care whether I received the money in Rands, Pula, Pound, Euro or USD so long as we stick to the official exchange rates prevailing at the time.
The government itself has been insisting that the bond, RTGS/Ecocash and FCA nostro/USD are separate but equal. The public notice from ZIMRA just goes on to prove that just like this Apartheid mantra was a lie- this is another lie by the government. It would appear that some currencies are actually more equal than others and ZIMRA knows this.
Foreigners have also been asked by the government to pay in foreign currency when paying for fuel at pumps. One assumes discriminatory techniques are to be used to profile and sniff out “foreigners” here. The good Minister of Industry Raj Modi was called out for charging customers at his shops in real USD despite the government’s one as to one policy.
And yet here we are
In my opinion the government should just accept the facts. The power to make laws does not mean that you have the power to change facts. It’s like making a law that says the sun rises in the west and not the east. It will not change the facts- all it will do is make life difficult for all of us as we have to pretend in the public domain while in private we mock and sensibly disregard the law.
It is also unfair when the government makes laws which it breaks only when it suits them. They are sending the message that this law is only meant to be followed by us and not them. And they wonder why foreign investors are not responding en masse when they claim Zimbabwe is Open for business. They are trying to spin straw into gold and no one is buying.