A smuggling syndicate consisting officials from ZIMRA, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ), the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has been busted at the Harare International Airport.
Seven people were arrested but the three passengers, who had disembarked from a Kenyan Airways plane on Friday, and the syndicate’s alleged coordinator identified as Gotora escaped and are still at large.
Three ZRP officers, two National Handling Services staff members, a ZIMRA official and CAAZ official were arrested for allegedly assisting three passengers smuggle 29 bags of mobile phones into the country.
ZIMRA officials only managed to confiscate four of the bags, one of which was found with 600 cellphones.
The syndicate however managed to load 25 bags into a Toyota Corolla vehicle, registration number ADG 8006, which belongs to an army officer indentified as Gotora who escaped together with a NHS official named as Makau and the three passengers.
The passengers have been identified as Chipwere, who had 13 bags, Simbarashe Mhanyu, who had 10 bags, and Cynthia Pasipanodya with 6 bags.
The Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Cde Joram Gumbo slammed officials who abuse the authority entrusted in them by aiding acts of sabotage to the country.
He added that more security measures at all the ports of entry need to be put in place.
Meanwhile, stakeholders say smuggling of goods in and out of the country has impacted negatively on the country’s revenue collection system and the ability of local firms to compete with some of the smuggled goods.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) CEO, Mr Christopher Mugaga said the country is losing US$1,5 billion, a figure that is more than one third of the national budget of US$4 billion.
For ZIMRA Deputy Commissioner General, Mr Happias kuzvinzwa, measures have been put in place to curb smuggling but it is not the duty of ZIMRA but all stakeholders as it has devastating effects to the performance of the economy.
Local industries have closed shop as their products have failed to compete with cheap smuggled products, hence the loss of 100 000 jobs over the last five years, noted Mr Mugaga.