Smuggling Of Zambian Contraband Further Bleeds Zim
7 June 2022
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By Sofia Mapuranga- The smuggling of a popular energy drink, Kombucha from Zambia is costing Zimbabwe millions of dollars amid revelations that the contraband is not declared at the porous border posts.

The drink, has made waves for being an aphrodisiac among men and the brown and white 330ml bottle is being sold on the streets and Harare’s downtown for a $1.

This writer caught up with one of the traders who is illegally importing this ‘sex booster’ who explained how they use mostly illegal entry points to smuggle the Kombucha drink.

“There are many entry points between Zimbabwe and Zambia which we use to smuggle the Kombucha drink.

“While sometimes, we encounter law enforcement agents, they are ‘easy to deal’”

Quizzed further, the trader claimed they pay bribes to law enforcement agents.

“We just oil them because they are few unlike if we use the Chirundu Border Post,” revealed the trader who only identified himself as Mai Rasta.

She also said the other popular entry point is the Kanyemba Border Post owing to it being understaffed.

“Most of us who are in this trade of importing the Kombucha drink prefer to use  the Kanyemba Border Post because they are few police details, immigration  and Zimra officials.

“The security there is a bit lax such that most of the times they won’t detect that we will be hiding the contraband sometimes in diapers, pads and nappies ,”she said.

A bus driver who plies the Zimbabwe-Zambia route said they are making a killing from people who are smuggling the ‘Kombucha’ drink.

“Most of these Mbuyas (women smugglers) alert us that they have the Kombucha drink and would need us to conceal the stuff for them at Chirundu Border Post for a fee.

“So for every ‘case’ of 12 bottles I charge 3 dollars and on a good day I may have 20 of those which translates to US$60.These new buses we are driving  have so many compartments which  these Zimra guys are not aware of ,”said the driver who requested anonymity.

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) head of communications Francis Chimanda confirmed recently that the Kombucha drink was being smuggled in the country and the development was costing the nations millions in revenue.

“There is no record of its importation or any encounters with the product during our various enforcement activities at points of entry or any other areas under Zimra’s jurisdiction,“ he said.

ZIMRA on its schedule of Restricted and Prohibited Goods lists dangerous and harmful drugs, hazardous substances, expired drugs, pornographic, objectionable or undesirable materials and harmful substances which include skin lightening creams, soaps and lotions.

States the ZIMRA:

“The importation and exportation of certain goods and substances is restricted and done in the interest of the public and are meant to protect the consumer However importations and exportation of such goods is possible only under certain conditions such as production of a relevant permit or licence. For some products, the importation or exportation is absolutely prohibited.”

ZIMRA however reports that some of the most common offences at the country’s borders include smuggling, false declaration, the forgery of documents for Customs and Excise purposes, bribery and use of vehicle for smuggling purposes.

The Zimbabwe Anti- Corruption Commission (ZACC) in April 2022 impounded several buses under an anti-smuggling operation.

The development followed revelations by whistleblowers of the rampant corruption at the country’s porous borders.

Last year, law makers presented a  report on the state of service delivery at ports of entry urging  government to prioritise and ensure urgent installation of modern state of the art ICT facilities to enable effective border patrols and surveillance.