THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has embarked on a massive lifestyle audit of its staff with the authority sniffing everywhere including bank accounts, mobile money transfers and the deeds office to establish properties registered in its employees’ names or their families. Employees are then asked to justify any suspicious bank deposits, mobile money transfer transactions and the source of funds for properties in their names, spouse or children’s names. It is understood that hordes of employees failed to justify their transactions or the source of income. They were fired on suspicion of engaging in corruption.

The authority has been carrying out lifestyle audits over the years, but the current wave has been intensified particularly after the suspension of ZIMRA management led by Commissioner-General Mr Gershem Pasi mid this year. ZIMRA board secretary and director for Legal and Corporate Services, Ms Florence Jambwa, confirmed the lifestyle audit saying it was meant to curb graft within the authority. “The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has zero tolerance to corruption and employs several measures to curb the vice. These measures include staff lifestyle audits, which you have alluded to in your question that are carried out on a regular and continuous basis to identify any cases of unjust enrichment and corruption.”

“Staff lifestyle audits are based on asset declarations, which members of staff make on periodic bases, and other sources of information. Disciplinary action is taken against members of staff who engage in corrupt activities, in accordance with the Authority’s Code of Conduct.” Ms Jambwa said this was an on-going process during the employment period of ZIMRA employees. She said the revenue collector had put mechanisms in place to fight corruption at all its stations including ports of entry and exit. Anti-corruption hotlines and other reporting platforms have since been put in place for members of the public to expose corrupt employees. The authority has also roped in the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)  to compel financial institutions to avail bank statements of a number of employees as part of the audit.

Head of the RBZ’s Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Unit, Mr Tichafa Chigaba recently wrote to a number of banks advising them to advise bank account statements of a number of employees. “You are required to furnish us with bank account statements, covering period January 2014 to date, in respect of the attached list of ZIMRA officers,” said Mr Chigaba. On the other hand, ZIMRA has been requesting some of its employees to confirm if they have any other assets and properties apart from the ones they declared. “If available, please give full details of such assets or properties in terms of name of asset, address, value on acquisition, current value, date acquired and full details of full ownership. Disclose any other sources of income for all incomes that accrued to you for the period January 2012 to August 2016 apart from your ZIMRA employment and ZIMRA related sources. Explain all your non-ZIMRA related payment credit transactions, being money deposited into your ZIMRA salary account for the period January 2012 to August 2016. Disclose and account for all incomes that accrued to you through EcoCash transactions for the period January 2014 to January 2016,” read an inquiry from ZIMRA to some of its employees.

Insiders, who spoke on condition of anonymity said the authority had engaged some of its employees to investigate their colleagues. “This is because there are only about 16 Loss Control Officers yet ZIMRA has a staff complement of about 2 000. “So at the moment they are targeting employees they believe have been troublesome particularly those who have had disciplinary cases before but could not be expelled for lack of legal justification. “So far, a number of employees have been axed for failing to account for their income. For instance, someone was recently axed because he had properties and commuter omnibuses, which the authority said were giving him income. “However, what is disheartening is the fact that it is the account holder who is charged for bank statements that are requested by the authority,” said an insider. Another source added: “This has been mainly targeting officials who are or have been stationed at the ports of entry and exit. “We do not understand why they are only targeting junior employees when it is the big guys who bag more money.”

SOURCE: The Herald