For some time we have heard of Africans who seem to have very deep pockets and spend lavishly on their lifestyle even though their jobs come with modest incomes. The source of some of the wealth by many of such individuals remains unknown. In other words, they spend more than they justifiably earn. This unexplained wealth is often due to different forms of corruption.
To nip this menace in the bud, the government of Zimbabwe is crafting legislation that will empower it to crack down on people with “unexplained wealth”. The Zimbabwe President, Emmerson Mnangagwa made this known during a meeting with Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) at the State House on Friday, July 14, 2019. According to the President, the new law will allow the government to seize assets of such people. President Mnangagwa said,
“As soon as the unexplained wealth legislation comes on our statutes, criminality will seize to be an attractive venue. The fight against corruption has taken off. Indeed it has been slow. [However], we are setting up the requisite institutions to continue fighting and we will not stop. It is not easy but it has to be done.”
ZIMRA now tracking unexplained wealth
The Sunday Mail on November 25, 2018, reported that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) was now tracking the income of individuals whose expenditures were higher than their income. According to the report, the fight was to curb financial crimes which are harming the economy.
Consequently, ZIMRA is working with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, the police, and the National Prosecution Authority. Beaming light at unexplained wealth was Ms. Faith Mazani, the ZIMRA Commissioner-General. In an interview with Sunday Mail, she said,
“Taxpayers are to disclose the source of income which would have been used to acquire their assets or is used in their day-to-day life. In short, income and expenditure should balance. Zimra is encouraging voluntary disclosure by affected individuals up to the end of December 2018. Thereafter, enforcement measures will be put in place to ensure that the wealth is correctly accounted for and taxed.”
Offenders risk a jail term
The president is not only against unexplained wealth. The law crafted by the federal Executive Powers was also against illegal foreign currency dealers. A law will be meaningless without a penalty for defaulters. Consequently, the government is proposing up to 10 years imprisonment for defaulters. According to the president, the sudden company closures that leave people jobless will be addressed by the bill.
“Even in the private sector, corruption is rife. It should be confronted in order to deal with the phenomenon of unexplained company closures that suddenly renders scores of breadwinners jobless after years of unpaid labor.”
Enacting laws is one thing and implementing them is another. Every now and then we hear governments of different African countries making fine laws. However, it fails in the implementation. This is one law that must be taken seriously.
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