HARARE – The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) lost 61 potential vehicles that had been ordered and paid for in Zimbabwe dollars by the tax collector due to a clumsy muddle of delayed disbursement of foreign currency by the central bank and brutal currency fluctuations which saw payment shrink to just enough for 24 cars.

Toyota dealer, Mike Harris officials on Monday told lawmakers that out of the outstanding 70 Zimra cars paid for, it would deliver just 9 Corolla vehicles because the US$3.9 million Zimbabwe dollar equivalent paid by the tax collector was eroded by inflation.

According to the Auditor General, Zimra suffered a ZWL $209 million (US$1,7 million at the official rate) loss after paying for 35 Toyota Hilux double-cab cars and 50 Toyota Corolla vehicles which were never delivered.

While payment was made on February 24, 2022, only 15 Toyota Hilux vehicles were delivered and none of the Toyota Corolla vehicles had been received as of December 2022.

Late last year, ZIMRA lost its bid to cancel a tender for the supply of 85 vehicles worth more than US$3,9 million after the High Court Commercial Division threw out the appeal for failure to prove that Mike Harris, which delivered 15 Toyota Hilux vehicles, had deliberately failed to supply the remaining 70, despite full payment.

Zimra paid for the vehicles in the now defunct Zimbabwe dollars and Mike Harris would get the required forex to import the vehicles through the RBZ auction system.

But the dealer argued it faced delays in getting foreign currency allocations and was hit by fluctuations in the exchange rate.

Zimra, although it had paid in local currency, had approached court wanting to cancel the contract while seeking a refund which was equal to what the amount could source for in terms of US dollars at the time.

Mike Harris chief executive officer Brian Kaukonde told the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament that the dealer would only supply 9 Toyota Corolla vehicles out of 50 and none of the remaining 20 Toyota Hilux to Zimra despite it having paid the money for 85 cars.

“The amount which we received ZWL$74 million was allocated to double cabs and 15 cabs were procured by the foreign currency which came from the central bank.

“The agreed position with Zimra is on nine Corollas to be delivered by the end of June (2024),” he told the MPs.

Kaukonde blamed exchange rate fluctuations for Mike Harris’ failure to deliver all the 85 cars.

“If you look at the timelines and the aspect of inflation, you will have a clear picture.

“Between the time we signed a contract and when payment came through, was a period of a year.

“You can appreciate that the interbank rate was not holding steady in one position,” he said.