The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has directed its agents at Beibridge boarder post to start levying groceries being brought into Zimbabwe. ZIMRA says that even groceries being send to individuals in Zimbabwe are to be subjected to import duty as they do not qualify for traveller’s rebate unless accompanied by their owners.

Clearance of Goods/Groceries Sent by Individuals from South Africa

Please note that the following shall apply:

1) Every transporter shall transmit by email to ZIMRA, a Cargo Manifest not later than three (3) hours before the arrival of the vehicle at the port of entry;

2) The Cargo Manifest must include details of the transporter, individuals receiving the goods, description and quantities of the goods and must be signed by the driver in charge of the vehicle.

3) The manifest should be accompanied by a detailed schedule showing the full names, ID/passport numbers and addresses of each person whose goods are being transported and a full description, quantities and correct values of the goods;

It is advisable that every transporter should appoint a Clearing Agent who will be responsible for receiving duty assessments and for the payment of the duties prior to the arrival of the goods.

Pre-clearance is mandatory in terms of the law and avoids delays associated with the clearance process when goods are already at the border.

Note: No Travelers Rebate Allowance is applicable as these goods are unaccompanied by the importers & therefore full duties are due and payable.

No rest for the poor

It’s no secret, even before the current world-wide lockdowns due to coronavirus a lot of Zimbabwean families relied on groceries send from abroad by their relatives in diaspora. A fact supported by the ever-increasing cross-border startups that have risen up over the past few years. Companies such as Malaicha, Fresh In A Box, Blessed Hands, and now Mukuru groceries have all risen up to serve the increasingly beleaguered local population.

There are a lot of reasons for this rise in more people sending groceries into Zimbabwe including:

  • The general economic meltdown that has seen the local industry scale down its operations. Even basics such as washing powder and cooking oil are not being made in sufficient quantities
  • Despite government subsidies, locally made goods are priced higher than imported ones.
  • Shock tactics by the monetary and fiscal authorities including fixed exchange rates make people in the diaspora wary that their relatives might not get the true value of their remittances if they are send as money.

Lots of families are now relying on groceries from abroad as those employed in the informal sector, which constitute 60% of Zimbabwe’s economy have had to stay home for more than two months now. The government’s promised handouts have not materialised during this time.

Scrapping import duty would have been a good way to offer relief. Normally ZIMRA would have offered rebates as people would be travelling but now it’s mostly all-goods at the boarder since it was closed to people. Instead the government is focusing on raising revenue from a struggling population that is not working.