Zimra actions invite EU travel warnings on Zim: Mzembi

The Herald-THE European Union has re-issued warnings against its citizens travelling to Zimbabwe sighting the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority’s introduction of 100 percent body searches to travellers entering the country. The travel warnings mean that EU citizens can only travel to Zimbabwe at their own risk.

Walter Mzembi
Walter Mzembi

If taken seriously, like in the past, the warnings may reduce tourist arrivals from traditional source markets in Europe. In an ultra-crackdown on tax evaders, Zimra is performing “body searches tantamount to stripping people naked” including diplomats, throwing the tourism and hospitality industry into quandary. Diplomats accredited to Zimbabwe have complained to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the treatment and their countries have now acted on it.

Yesterday Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi, described the searches as “virtual strip searches, highly dehumanising and inconsistent with human rights”, saying he had already taken up the issue with Vice President Joice Mujuru.

“We have been taken aback. Zimra invited the re-issuing of travel warnings on us.

“The Minister of Finance (Tendai Biti) triggered this by introducing duty on clothing in his last fiscus review and by that token, women are being searched in their handbags and right into their panties.

“At some stage, a woman was forced to remove shoes she was wearing on the pretext that she had put them on to avoid duty. So, Zimra is now deciding what people should wear and when?” asked Minister Mzembi.

He added: “I have since talked to the Minister of Finance and I think he is going to take care of this before it’s too late. It is dehumanising, it is unacceptable and I think its worse with road travellers.”

VP Mujuru chairs the Cabinet committee on tourism for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation 2013 general assembly.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Mr Karikoga Kaseke, said Zimra had “turned the airports and borders into torture chambers”.

“Government should quickly intervene and stop the nonsense. Our ports of entry, not only the Harare International Airport and Beitbridge Border Post but everywhere Zimra has turned the ports into torture chambers just because they want revenue.

“Yes, Government needs the money but this type of action is in violation of the Chicago protocol, that defines international travel and we are a signatory to it,” he said.

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