HIT, Zimra in tax wrangle over donated equipment

The Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) has been subjected to serious challenges at the hands of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority demanding “gift-taxes” to release its donated equipment.

HIT Vice Chancellor Eng. Quinton Kanhukamwe.
HIT Vice Chancellor Eng. Quinton Kanhukamwe.

The Dean of Information Science and Technology, Tendai Padenga, said Zimra was holding on to biometric machinery donated by the Iranian government. At one point, it took nine months for the tax collector to clear hydraulic and pneumatic lines donated to the institute by the Chinese and Indian governments.

“We are facing serious challenges with Zimra,” he said, adding that HIT had signed agreements with the Chinese, Iranian, and Indian governments via their Ambassadors to Zimbabwe. These saw the institute sending 110 of its best engineers to the three countries to acquire skills in various fields.

China assisted in automotive, petrol, structural, mechanical and transformer engineering while India assisted design and manufacturing for hydraulic and pneumatic transformer winding machines, oil tanks, production and robotics lines.

Iran also offered to train HIT students in petrol mechanical, petroleum engineering, gas pipe line structuring and gas exploration.

Padenga said they received recommendations by the training engineers to acquire various equipment for so that the technology could be replicated in Zimbabwe. After negotiations, the governments offered to donate some of the equipment.

Zimra is currently holding on to a mini-bioreactor and biometric kit worth over a million dollars, donated by Iran several months ago. The tax collector wants $300,000 in “gift-tax.”

“And as we speak the students are already coming in but he equipment has not yet been commissioned,” he lamented Padenga. “We had similar challenges after China and India donated some equipment. The donation was of a hydraulic line but we realised that we also needed the pneumatic winding line since we already had pneumatic engineers in the country,” he said.

They sourced funds from the Rural Electrification Agency, with which they have a public partnership, for the acquisition of the line. He added that the Chinese government through their Ambassador offered the line at a cost price of $135,000 although its market price was $1,5 million.

But the equipment was then delayed for six months by the State Procurement Board before the permanent secretary in the ministry of ICT intervened – only to be delayed for nine months by Zimra

“It didn’t take the Chinese and Indian governments time after the transactions were made. The lines were at Harare International Airport the following day – but Zimra took nine months to clear it. It finally reached HIT in March this year, so technically it took us almost a year to get our hands on the lines that had already been delivered due to Zimra delays,” he said.

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