THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has written to its former commissioner-general, Gershem Pasi (pictured), demanding the return of a Toyota Land Cruiser he left with following his resignation early this year amid 45 charges of misconduct.
By Wongai Zhangazha
In a letter dated September 7, written by Zimra deputy director of human resources, who is also the human capital development manager, Betty Chimbera, on behalf of acting commissioner-general Happias Kuzvinzwa, Pasi was asked to bring back the car without delay.
“Our records indicate that following your resignation on 22 May 2017, you are still in possession of the authority’s Toyota Land cruiser ADJ 6890. In this regard, the authority would want this vehicle surrendered without further delay. Please kindly advise when the authority can come and collect the vehicle,” reads Chimbera’s letter.
When contacted for comment, Pasi said he will surrender the car in terms of his contract.
“Normally these things are held in privacy, but seeing the other side has already given their story — yes, I am in possession of the vehicle.
“I don’t want to discuss the contents of that letter or my response, but am just asking that, is it not the same vehicle which the press went to town about that I had smuggled and put number plates belonging to a Raum.
“So if that story was true, why then does Zimra want the vehicle from me? As I said then, it is a Zimra vehicle. I had no reason not to pay duty and I did not import that vehicle.”
As first reported by the Zimbabwe Independent last year, the Zimra audit, released in September, exposed massive corruption, fraud, poor corporate governance and tax evasion scandals within the tax authority, with revelations that the revenue collector was prejudiced of more than US$20 million.
Pasi was expected to answer to several charges of misconduct, which include the signing of a US$14 million contract with a company called AVIC International for the supply of uniforms and tollgate equipment, allegedly without following tender procedures. He was also accused of allocating himself excessive vehicle allowances amounting to US$374 451 between 2014 and May 2016 without the approval of the board, among other charges.
However, Pasi in an exclusive interview with the Independent in June denied the allegations stating his conduct was above board and all his actions were done procedurally with board approval.
He said the awarding of the tender to AVIC was negotiated at government level through the Office of the President and Cabinet and was not an individual decision. Pasi said Treasury was also involved in the decision.
The former commissioner-general said duty was paid for the Toyota Land Cruiser despite allegations to the contrary. He also said the vehicle was acquired after approval from the ministries of Transport and Finance, cabinet and the State Procurement Board.
The Zimra board dragged Pasi to a hearing, which began in November last year, with former High Court judge Justice Moses Chinhengo acting as the disciplinary hearing officer. Pasi was represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu, acting on instructions from Mambosasa Legal Practitioners. Zimra was represented by Kantor and Immerman Legal Practitioners.
Documents seen by the Independent in May indicated that Zimra bosses have told Pasi they will not drop charges, as they are concerned about issues raised in an audit carried out by HLB Chartered Accountants.
The Zimra board sanctioned the probe in July last year after a whistle-blower’s report on irregularities in the importation of executive cars.
According to documents detailing the proceedings during the closed-door hearing, Pasi, on November 24, presented a proposal for settlement to the Zimra board and was awaiting a response.
In his resignation letter, Pasi said: “My employer has without just or lawful cause preferred unfounded charges against me. The charges ring hollow, being based as they are, upon an incompetent audit report prepared by auditors who abdicated their most basic functions and responsibilities. I wish to reiterate and make it abundantly clear that I have committed no misconduct, either of the nature alleged or at all.”
However, in response to Pasi’s resignation letter, Zimra board chairperson Willia Bonyongwe, in a letter, said, while the board accepted his decision, it did not agree with some of the issues he raised.