THE government could be losing millions of dollars daily as goods continue to illegally enter or leave Zimbabwe through the Nyamapanda border post under the nose of Customs officials who sometim
es appear to be part of the smuggling syndicates, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
Smuggling of food stuffs such as sugar, margarine, powdered milk and mealie-meal out of the country is rampant at the border post for destinations in Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania.
The Customs officials are allegedly also bribed by those wishing to bring goods into the country without paying duty. The goods brought into Zimbabwe are mainly electric gadgets and clothing from Asian countries.
When the Independent visited Nyamapanda border post last week, long queues of vehicular traffic could be observed the whole day on both sides of the entry point. Most prominent were haulage trucks, which are allegedly used to smuggle goods in and out of the country.
A truck driver, unaware that he was talking to a journalist, said: “Oh yes, it is common knowledge that a gonyeti (haulage truck) driver makes millions on every trip by ferrying goods into or out of the country without declaring (filling in Customs declaration forms). There are established networks that involve Customs officials.”
Talking to Customs officials proved more difficult as most of them are suspicious of strangers and only interact with “well-known” connections. The Independent established that Customs officials now scramble to be stationed at Nyamapanda border post.
“On a good day a Customs official can make up to $1 million in addition to gadgets such as VCRs, DVDs and cellphones,” said a trader during a conversation.
A man from Harare, who had spent two days at the border post waiting for a truck in which his tonne of sugar was stashed to be cleared, was confident he would make it to the Mozambican capital, Maputo where his clients were waiting.
“I have been assured (by Customs officials) that today we will cross (the border) and I will be back tomorrow. My clients are waiting for me in Maputo ready with the US dollars,” he said.
The man expected to quickly come back to Harare where he said he would pick up a consignment of rice, which he intended to smuggle into Mozambique.