Please stop harassing churches

HARARE - That our government is broke is a fact of life but the desperate and embarrassing levels this administration has reached in trying to tax churches is shocking as it shows a regime with no ideas to take the nation out of the current economic quagmire.

Government now wants to tax churches.

This is unprecedented.

Yesterday, the Daily News revealed that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) was visiting churches and making enquiries about their sources of income and seeking information on people who make donations.

Actually, the tax collector intends to escalate the raid, roping in non-governmental organisations.

The government needs to be reminded that Zimbabwe’s economic woes will not be solved by raiding the church coffers, among their “mickey mouse” strategies.

It does not need a rocket scientist at all to know what the country’s economy needs to get back to life.

To begin with, where is the diamond money?

Before going to harass the churches, why haven’t the authorities, including Gershom Pasi’s Zimra, investigated the disappearance of billions of dollars in diamonds revenue.

It’s appalling.

All these years, former Finance minister Tendai Biti was making noise that diamonds revenue was missing.

But Zanu PF dismissed the claims. They said he was politicking saying he was trying to tarnish the image of the party.

Surprisingly, one of their own, newly-appointed Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, recently said that out of a targeted $40 million in diamonds proceeds, treasury had received nothing in the nine months to September 2013. This vindicates Biti.

Zimra now sees a revenue opportunity in churches and immediately springs to action.

It’s really sad and clearly indicates the thinking and capacity of our leadership. Lest we forget, this is the same regime which believed that diesel could be extracted from a rock in Chinhoyi.

Look, when Zanu PF were campaigning, they promised to turn around the economy but nobody thought their economic turnaround strategy was invading churches. What a farce.

Apart from being more accountable on the diamonds money — which is quite significant in bailing out a struggling industry, among other pressing needs — government needs to formulate sound policies and create an environment that attracts investors into the investment starved country?

We need to reengage with the international community. While President Robert Mugabe and colleagues have clearly showed that they don’t care about the West and will seek financial support from the East, sadly our Asian friends are not ready to give us free supper.

Mr President, we need to join hands with the world and be part of the global community and then we can start thinking of reviving the economy.

Government has been told for the umpteenth time of what needs to be done, including our priorities and spending culture. We cannot belabour the point.

Comments (1)

Mr editor i don'nt know what all the cry is about. I think you are now running your newspaper articles on rumours instead of fact. Churches are exempt as far as income arising to it through donations,tithes and offerings. Income accruing to its employees is taxable just like any other ordinary Zimbabwean employee so is income accrued to the church from profitable income generating projects the church might run. This has always been the case even before Zimra came into being. So please stop generalising this issue and give us facts as to which church has been raided and how much money any church has been forced to pay government beyond what the tax laws demand. This is poor jounalism, the H metro kid of journalism driven by rumour and unfortunately people are making comments on totaly wrong information from a supposedly true source.

Fine - 15 November 2013

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