Exposed: Corruption At Zimbabwe Tollgates, Pockets Lined Massively

This tollgate ticket is one of three I saw today, all without the details filled in, all without a figure on them. This one I borrowed from a haulage truck driver to take a picture, and as you can see, it says "Passenger Vehicle." A passenger vehicle pays US$1, whereas a haulage truck pays US$4. Mugabe's party activists, given jobs at these booths, are making a killing. No one has EVER seen a "Haulage Truck Ticket and the money that gets passed on is fraction of what would have been collected. Some of the tickets issued are clearly fakes, bearing no ZIMRA logo as with the one above.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 11 September 2009

Mugabe is a past master at extending his patronage system.

Now it emerges that ZANU PF activists, including the so-called notorious Green Bombers who were used to unleash violence on opposition supporters, have been employed as Tollgate fee collectors along Zimbabwe's highways.

The system has been deliberately designed to allow these ZANU PF activists the opportunity to engage in heavily corrupt activities, since there is no way to account for the money that they get.

Here is how it is working:

Vehicles of different sizes are supposed to pay different amounts of money, US$1 for a small passenger car and US$4 for trucks and even more for the bigger cross border haulage trucks.

But, the system has been designed deliberately to ensure that there is no distinction at the end of the day between a haulage truck and a passenger vehicle.

The tollgate operators, most of them employed specially for the job through, I am told, ZANU PF structures, are giving out tickets labelled "Passenger Vehicle" to every car that passes through, even if it is a haulage truck.

This is a confirmed fact that I have seen with my own eyes and was confirmed only today by someone who also traveled into Harare behind a haulage truck. The operators are using a single type of book for all types of cars.

Further to this, they do not bother to write the figure one pays on the ticket, no do they bother with any other detail.

Sometimes, one gets tickets that do not even have a ZIMRA (Revenue Authority) logo on it.

The system is now well-established.

Reconciliations are done at the end of the day, when the operators sit down and, off the tops of their heads, decide what number of the tickets issued they should allocate for the higher-paying trucks and haulage vehicles.

So, in the end, even when there have been 100 trucks that have passed through that tollgate each paying US$4, because there is no way to check, the operators sit down and decide that, for example, they will only record 20 haulage trucks as having gone through the post.

The rest of the 100 trucks are recorded as passenger vehicles that only paid US$1 each. The US$3 difference is pocketed.

The authorities are aware of this. They designed the tickets in this manner and they have not put in place any mechanism for checking at all.

At the end of the day, therefore, the ZANU PF activists who have been jobs at these tollgates walk away with massive amounts of money and they know who thank for their good fortune.

It is a disgusting state of affairs.

It appears that Tendai Biti at the Ministry of Finance, who is supposed to be using the revenue from these booths to fund road reconstruction has no power over this process. I am told that he had to beg to get the system implemented as those responsible dragged their feet.

Employment and opportunities for lining pockets have been created, but it seems only for ZANU PF functionaries and activists.

It just goes to show yet again who exactly it is that is truly in charge in government and just how little the character of Zimbabwe's government has changed, despite the presence of the MDC in office.


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