This has resulted in Industry ministry officials intercepting applications for licences from individual importers despite that the vehicles had been processed by Customs officials and their import licences passed as legit.
Industry ministry secretary Mavis Sibanda admitted to the inhouse theft of licences through a letter dated June 30, 2021 to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) acting commissioner-general Rameck Masaire.
“The Ministry of Industry and Commerce is writing to inform Zimra about those following internal investigations. We have discovered that more import licences were fraudulently issued. Further, we have discovered that eight licence books were stolen,” Sibanda said.
She said licence books with serial numbers 059351-049500, 059451-059500, 059701-059750, 059851-069900, 059951-060000, 060001-060050, 060101-060150 and 061451-061500 were missing in their inventory.
Sibanda also said 36 licences bore forged signatures.
At the weekend, the affected importers were planning to make formal complaints saying it was misdirected punishment.
“We applied for our licences and deposited money into the account of the Ministry of Industry and we got our licences,” one of the affected people said.
“Who will foot those storage bills? Why should an error by civil servants affect importers who are paying their duties? The Ministry of Industry and Commerce should deal with its employees and not inconvenience innocent people,” another importer said.
The Industry and Commerce ministry has not yet responded to questions sent to it on Friday.
Of late, only commercial vehicles attracted duty in foreign currency, with the lowest duty paid being US$1 300 per car.
In March this year, the Industry ministry banned the importation of vehicles that are 10 years saying they now require import licences.
Government lost US$3 billion in duty in the first three months after it banned the importation of the old cars.