State says Biti tried to smuggle books

Lawyer Tendai Biti, former finance minister, speaks to journalists outside Zimbabwe's High Court in the capital Harare. File photo: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo.

THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) yesterday foiled an attempt by MDC-Alliance deputy chairman Mr Tendai Biti to smuggle copies of his book, Democracy Works, without paying import duties.

The book was co-authored with former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, Greg Mills of the Brenthurst Foundation and Jeffrey Herbst, the president of the American Jewish University.

The incident happened at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport ahead of the book’s official launch at Sapes Trust resulting in delays of the proceedings.

It was later launched at Sapes Trust at an event attended by MDC-A president Mr Nelson Chamisa, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Brian Nichols and several of the party’s allies in the non-governmental organisation sector.

Soon after the launch, Mr Biti acknowledged that the consignment of books had been confiscated over import duty.

“They just took our books. We had like 200 books which we intended to give our people, but they just took them and mind you this is the second time they just took them.

“They just gave the excuse (about) customs and we said we can pay the duty, they refused,” he said.

Zimra spokesperson Mr Francis Chimanda requested for emailed questions, but he had not responded by the time of going to print.

Earlier in his address to the gathering, Mr Biti attacked several countries in the region saying the book had come “at a time when there is a challenge (for democracy) in our region, the Sadc region”.

Not to be outdone, Mr Chamisa attacked Government comparing it to the racist Ian Smith regime.

Meanwhile, Mr Obasanjo said democracy was important in bringing about development and stability in any nation.

“There is need to focus on democracy as a system for which there is no substitute for two basic reasons.

“It is a system that allows participation of all the citizens in all the activities of a country be it economic, social, political because it allows for discussion, delegation, dialogue and debate which other forms of governance particularly dictatorships don’t allow for.

“Democracy releases energy of the community better than any other system.”

The former Nigerian leader also said democracy was essential in managing diverse communities like what is found in most African countries.

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