By A Correspondent| On 27 July 2021 the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association, (ZimRights) filed a Request for Information on “Tax Holidays” with ZIMRA and the Ministry of Finance.
In terms of section 7 of the Freedom of Information Act, [Chapter 10:33] any citizen can request the disclosure of government policy and other information in the public interest. The law requires that every public entity, public commercial entity or holder of a statutory office SHALL have a written information disclosure policy through which it discloses information in the interests of public accountability or that is required for the exercise or protection of a right.
ZimRights is convinced that both or one of them ZIMRA or/and the Ministry of finance are the custodians of information relating to the granting of tax holidays to certain corporates. It is in this light that ZimRights has written to these public entities requesting the following information;
1. A written information disclosure policy in terms of section 5 of the Freedom of Information Act if any; and
2. Particulars of the tax exemption policy in force especially;
2.1 Type, and business sector of persons, including corporate persons exempt from liability for corporate or other income tax in Zimbabwe in the example format:
(Great Dyke Investments (Private) Limited-platinum mining joint venture- exempt via S.I. 26 of 2021 effective from 1st January 2020);
2.2 The criteria in use to assess eligibility for granting of tax exemption to corporate entities for the period 2019 to date.
2.3 If there is a register of tax-exempt corporate entities or individuals (resident shareholder`s tax payable on dividends);
2.3.1 If yes, to kindly avail an updated copy of the register of exempt persons.
ZimRights believes this information is important for the pursuit of transparency and accountability as envisioned by the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
On 1 July 2021, a US Based group, the Sentry published a report “Shadows and Shell Games: Uncovering an Offshore Business Empire” which exposed potentially corrupt practices by government officials. A follow up family dialogue was convened by ZimRights, ZIMCODD and the Constitutional Law Centre (CLC) in which citizens and experts recommended pursuit of accountability.
Section 194 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe obliges the government to foster transparency by providing the public with timely, accessible, and accurate information. The government and all its agencies are duty bound to keep the public informed