THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority is investigating its own irregular purchase of 33 vehicles from Croco Motors in what could turn out to be a major scam in
volving the flouting of tender procedures and possible corruption.
The $363 million deal for the purchase of 33 Mazda 626 GLX sedans in June has soured relations between Zimra and the car dealer which has in the past supplied vehicles to the authority.
The Zimbabwe Independent last week established that Zimra had returned all the 33 vehicles to Croco Motors and wanted a refund.
The revenue authority is also investigating its senior officers in the finance department in connection with the purchase of the vehicles.
It has been established that around June this year, Zimra wanted to buy vehicles from car manufacturer Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries who had won the supply tender. But on making inquiries from Wilowvale, Zimra was informed that the manufacturer no longer had kits to assemble the Mazda 626s. Willowvale was now phasing out the model and replacing it with the Mazda 6. Zimra was then referred to Croco Motors who had the vehicles in stock.
Zimra officers then placed an order to buy the vehicles from Croco Motors and the tax authority paid $363 billion then (now $363 million) before taking delivery of the vehicles.
Sources at Zimra said the purchase was never put to tender, raising suspicion that finance officers could have received kickbacks from the car dealer.
The executive chairman of the State Procurement Board, Charles Kuwaza, last Thursday told the Independent that he had a discussion with Zimra commissioner-general Gershem Pasi concerning the vehicles.
Kuwaza said the Zimra boss had said it “appeared” that procurement procedures had been violated.
“He explained that certain officials appeared to have violated procurement procedures, but at the time he was still investigating. I am still awaiting the report on these investigations,” Kuwaza said.
He referred further questions to Zimra, but efforts to reach Pasi or the revenue authority’s spokesperson, Priscilla Sadomba, were fruitless.
Sources said Pasi had directed that all the vehicles be returned to Croco Motors.
He also demanded a refund of the purchase price with interest. Croco Motors has since refunded Zimra and the two parties are in discussion over the payment of interest. Sources at Zimra alleged that Pasi must have been aware of the purchase at the time as such a large transaction required authorisation by his office.
Zimra has reportedly widened investigations to establish whether Croco Motors had paid value-added tax in the transaction. The taxman has also called for an audit of all vehicle sales by Croco Motors to establish if they were above board.
Croco Motors has in the past sold vehicles to Zimra which include the latest Toyota Prado SUVs, Toyota IMV trucks and Nissan Hardbody trucks.