Where are the farmers’ taxes?
In its continued quest to make public authorities more accountable and transparent, the Zimbabwe Young Women’s Network for Peacebuilding (ZYWNP) will follow up on the status of A1 and A2 unit taxes in the development of the district.
In 2015, the Zimbabwean government introduced annual land and unit taxes for both communal and commercial farmers in the country. Lands and Rural Resettlement Minister, Dr Douglas Mombeshora said that commercial farmers, classified as A2 farmers, would pay $3 land rental per hectare per annum and $2 unit tax per hectare annually. A1 communal farmers, on the other hand, would pay $10 land rental per year and another $5 unit tax over the same period.
Earlier this month, ZYWNP hand delivered a letter to the rural district council as a first step towards accessing information request on the collection and remittance of the unit taxes which is overseen by the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement.
‘The ZYWNP felt that it was critical to first reach out to the rural district council before writing and sending out a letter of request to the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement, “ said ZYWNP director.
Shown below is the letter sent to the Mutoko RDC;
In announcing the tax collection, Dr Mombeshora noted that the decision for the takeover was prompted by the challenges that the local authorities faced in the collection of the taxes. At the time, a number of councils were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars by farmers in their districts. The ministry would oversee the collection of the taxes and submit to treasury for onward forwarding to the local authorities.
However, by the end of the first quarter of 2016, the media reported clashes between the Rural District Councils and the Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement over the taxes. While the ministry alleged that some council misused the taxes that were meant to contribute to local development projects, the councils argued that the ministry was disbursing insignificant amounts that left them unable to make any developmental progress.
“We are keen to follow up on what has been disbursed by the Ministry to the Mutoko council since 2015. This is important for us as stakeholders as it will inform the extent to which the farming community has contributed to local development. Both the ministry and the district council should be accountable,” said the ZYWNP director.