Anti-corruption strategies of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) Customs Department at Beitbridge Border Post : a case-based analysis

Mundia, Vickson (2014-12)

Thesis (MPA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Corruption is a global cause for concern due to its negative impact on development. The complex issues surrounding corruption have motivated many researchers, strategists and planners to explore strategies to combat all activities relating to its causes and effects, both in the public and private sector. These efforts have produced a great deal of information, ideas and definitions related to this subject. However, there are still some gaps in understanding, and scope for further exploration. This thesis looks at the anti-corruption strategies of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), Customs Division, at Beitbridge Border Post, with specific reference to the following issues: causes of corruption, consequences, and gaps in the ZIMRA’s anti-corruption initiatives. The thesis also makes some suggestions of remedies and recommendations for implementation. This study establishes that poor and skewed remuneration within the ZIMRA has contributed to the officers soliciting bribes from travellers and traders. Low salaries, not only in the ZIMRA Customs Department but the whole public sector, have forced revenue officers to seek rent from travellers and traders who are also keen to avoid paying onerous customs duties and long queues at border posts. These long queues at the Beitbridge Border Post coupled with poor sanitation facilities contribute to travellers and traders offering bribes to customs officers so as to get quick clearances. The study also observes that there are weak customs clearance systems and facilities within the Zimbabwe customs at Beitbridge Border. For instance, technology, which could play a fundamental role in combating corruption as it increases transparency and accountability, especially through e-governance facilities, is not fully utilised. Despite the introduction of the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) software it was established that customs officers colluded with travellers and traders to manipulate the system, which is normally monitored from elsewhere. Although data is not readily accessible due to the sensitive nature of this research, and the politicisation and classification of such data, such cases of corruption led to high revenue leakages. The study also discovered that illegal and banned substances have been smuggled and found their way into the country due to the inefficiency of customs officials, which is mainly caused by corruption. Nevertheless, there are also indications that the ZIMRA considers corruption to be a problem that needs to be stopped. As the country has been experiencing serious internal economic problems, customs duties have proved to be a good source of revenue especially because of the huge Zimbabwean diaspora and the severe shortages of basic commodities within the country. However, this study observes that there is still a lack of synchronisation of anticorruption initiatives by the ZIMRA and other anti-corruption agencies such as the police. Anti-corruption strategies and remedies that may be implemented to curb increasing corruption cases at the border are also addressed in the study. Firstly, the existing ASYCUDA software, which is a significant goods clearance and corruption busting tool, should be properly leveraged to detect all the cases of false declaration of goods and the use of fake codes. This software should ideally be operated by highly motivated, correctly trained officials, who should also be monitored by other anti-corruption agencies. Additional monitoring could be done through surveillance cameras and increased lighting. In addition, these could be complemented by highway patrols of ZIMRA customs officials and police to detect and impound any smuggled or undeclared goods. Furthermore, more awareness campaigns should be conducted throughout the country to educate people about the evils of border-related corruption. The study also recommends that all these initiatives be accompanied by improved conditions of service and remuneration for customs officials. Anti-corruption agencies should be capacitated and optimally remunerated. Intermediate managers should be given performance frameworks based on best standards. However, having noted all these possible remedies, the study argues that, as long as the broader political environment remains weak, these initiatives will not generate their own internal logic and strength to work successfully, as is indeed the case currently. A key argument that this thesis makes is that the mere existence of institutions, mechanisms and instruments does not translate into an effective operation as long as the broader context is weak and not conducive.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Korrupsie is wêreldwyd ’n rede vir kommer vanweë die negatiewe impak wat dit op ontwikkeling het. Die komplekse kwessies daaromheen het vele navorsers, strategiste en beplanners gemotiveer om strategieë te ondersoek om alle aktiwiteite rakende die oorsake en gevolge daarvan in beide die openbare en die private sektor te beveg. Hierdie pogings het ’n groot hoeveelheid inligting, idees en definisies in verband met hierdie onderwerp na vore gebring. Daar bly egter gapings in die verstaan daarvan, dus is daar is ruimte vir verdere ondersoek. Hierdie tesis beskou die antikorrupsiestrategieë van die Zimbabwiese Inkomsteowerheid (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA)) se Doeane-afdeling by die Beitbruggrenspos, met spesifieke verwysing na die volgende: oorsake van korrupsie, nagevolge, en gapings in die antikorrupsie inisatiewe van die ZIMRA. Die tesis bied ook voorstelle met betrekkig tot regstelling en doen aanbevelings vir implementering. Hierdie studie het vasgestel dat swak en oneweredige vergoeding in die ZIMRA daartoe bydra dat beamptes omkoopgeld van reisigers en handelaars vra. Lae salarisse, nie net in die ZIMRA doeane-afdeling nie, maar dwarsdeur die openbare sektor, het beamptes daartoe gedryf om huur te vra van reisigers en handelaars wat ook gretig is om die betaling van gewigtige doeaneregte en lang toue by grensposte te ontduik. Hierdie lang toue by die Beitbrug-grenspos, tesame met swak sanitasiegeriewe, dra ook daartoe by dat reisigers en handelaars omkoopgeld aan doeanebeamptes bied om daardeur vinniger klaring te verkry. Die studie noem ook die swak uitklaringstelsels en fasiliteite by die Zimbabwe doeane by die Beitbrug-grenspos. Tegnologie wat ’n grondliggende rol in die bestryding van korrupsie kan speel omdat dit deursigtigheid en aanspreeklikheid bevorder, veral deur middel van estaatsbestuur fasiliteite, en word byvoorbeeld nie ten volle benut nie. Ten spyte van die aanskaf van sagteware wat doeanedata outomatiseer (Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA)) is vasgestel dat doeanebeamptes met reisigers en handelaars saamspan om die stelsel, wat normaalweg van elders gemoniteer word, te manipuleer. Alhoewel data vanweë die sensitiewe aard van hierdie navorsing en die politisering en klassifikasie van sodanige data nie geredelik toeganklik is nie, het sulke gevalle van korrupsie tot grootinkomstelekkasies gelei. Die studie het ook ontdek dat onwettige en verbode middels gesmokkel word en die land binnedring as gevolg van die ondoeltreffendheid/ onbekwaamheid vn die doeanebeamptes, grootliks vanweë korrupsie. Desnieteenstaande is daar ook tekens dat die ZIMRA korrupsie as ’n probleem ervaar wat tot ‘n einde moet kom. Aangesien die land ernstige binnelandse ekonomiese probleme ervaar, word doeaneregte as ‘n goeie bron van inkomste gesien, veral vanweë die grootskaalse Zimbabwiese diaspora en die ernstige tekort aan basiese koopware in die land. Die studie ervaar egter dat daar steeds ‘n gebrek is aan gesinkroniseerde antikorrupsie inisiatiewe deur die ZIMRA en ander antikorrupsie instansies soos die polisie. Antikorrupsie strategieë en regstellings wat geïmplementeer kan word om toenemende gevalle van korrupsie op die grens te bekamp, word ook in die studie aaangespreek. Eerstens behoort die bestaande ASYCUDA-sagteware, wat ‘n beduidende instrument vir goedereklaring en die ontbloting van korrupsie is, behoorlik aangewend word om alle gevalle van valse verklaring van goedere en die gebruik van vals kodes op te spoor. Die ideaal is dat hierdie sagteware deur hoogs gemotiveerde an behoorlik opgeleide beamptes hanteer word en dat hulle ook deur ander antikorrupsie agentskappe gemoniteer word. Bykomende monitering kan met behulp van waarnemingskameras en verbeterde beligting gedoen word. Hierbenewens kan hierdie pogings aangevul word deur snelwegpatrolering deur ZIMRA doeanebeamptes en die polisie om enige gesmokkelde of onverklaarde ware op te spoor en te skut. Verder behoort meer bewusmakingsveldtogte dwarsoor die land aangebied word om mense oor die euwel van grensverwante korrupsie in te lig. Die studie beveel aan dat al hierdie inisiatiewe met verbeterde diensomstandighede en vergoeding vir doeane-amptenare gepaard moet gaan. Antikorrupsie instansies behoort bemagtig en optimaal vergoed te word. Prestasie-raamwerke wat op beste standaarde gebaseer is, behoort aan intermediêre bestuurders voorsien te word. Tesame met al die moontlike oplossings wat genoem is , word daar egter geargumenteer dat hierdie inisiatiewe nie hul eie interne logika en die krag om suksesvol te werk, sal kan genereer nie so lank as wat die breër politieke omgewing swak bly, soos dit tans die geval is. ’n Sleutel-argument wat in die tesis aangevoer word is dat die blote bestaan van instellings, meganismes en instrumente nie in doeltreffende werking omgeskakel kan word nie so lank as die breër konteks swak is en nie daartoe bevorderlik is nie.

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