Corruption at Forbes Border Post

Investigations by The Zimbabwean have opened a Pandora’s Box of corruption at Forbes Border Post.

Truck drivers use Clearing Agencies to facilitate the smuggling of goods through Zimbabwe’s border posts.
Truck drivers use Clearing Agencies to facilitate the smuggling of goods through Zimbabwe’s border posts.

Clearing agencies, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and Zimbabwe Revenue Authorities, have been identified as the chief perpetrators, working in cahoots with smugglers. The minister of Investment Promotion Tapiwa Mashakada, in his 2011/2015 Mid Term Plan, cited the deplorable state of the border, which he said was depriving the country of millions of dollars.

According to sources at the border post, the perpetrators are taking advantage of the dilapidated infrastructure to smuggle goods.

A clearing agency source said, “Police, Zimra and clearing agencies are all involved in crime one way or the other”.

The source alleged that truck drivers travelling to Mozambique go to a Clearing Agency, which takes papers to Zimra for processing. Since the officials have piles of papers from other agencies, they ask for “Push Paper money” to fast-track the process.

“The amount of Push Paper money varies. Senior officials charge $20 upwards and juniors from as little as $5. This includes processing of Embargoes, Temporary, Imports Permits and Commercial Vehicle Guarantees (CVGs),” he said. “The agent is the mediator between drivers and Zimra. At times they lie or inflate the amount of bribes required by the latter,” he added.

In June 2009, seven Zimra officials were arrested for facilitating the smuggling of several thousands litres of petrol, which deprived the country of more than $700 000 in duty.

Four months later, police in Nyanga busted an mbanje smuggling syndicate and recovered 641kgs of the drug worth $10 million. According to the police, this was destined for markets in Harare and Botswana.

During the same period, four heavy trucks from J & J Transport Co. were charged with smuggling 200 bales of second-hand clothes worth $450 000 into Zimbabwe. A ZRP statement at the time suggested Zimra officials had facilitated the illegal entry.

The Zimbabwean was also informed that some clearing agents were forging their own CVGs and overcharging foreign trucks.

“CVGs cost between $30 to $150, depending on the agency. What happens is that an agent illegally overcharges as much as $200 to process the papers. The driver has no choice because he can’t go to another agency other than the one with which he is registered.”

There are more than 15 agencies including Allen Wack and Shepherd, Speedlink and Freightworld.

A ZRP junior officer, who is frequently deployed at the porous border, said corruption was rife.

“Even if the police are on guard and deny bribes, illegal goods can still find their way in and out of Zimbabwe,” he said.

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