Customs officials at Zimbabwe’s Beitbridge border have distributed foodstuffs to Bulawayo hospital after delivery trucks transporting goods that were meant for a chain of supermarkets owned by an ally of former first lady Grace Mugabe were impounded over the company’s failure to pay import tax, a report says.
According to New Zimbabwe.com, the goods, which were to be delivered to former deputy president Phelekezela Mphoko’s supermarket chain stores, were seized at the border post by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra officials.
The ex-deputy president was said to be embroiled in an ownership debacle with some of the company’s foreign investors.
In October,News24 reported that the southern African nation’s government brought in shock new regulationsthat requireanyone importing a wide range of foreign-made goods, ranging from jam to wheelbarrows, to get a special permit.
Former president Robert Mugabe’s government said at the time it wanted to save scarce foreign currency as it battled to pay its civil servants.
The move was widely seen as an attempted “ban” on foreign goods, though officials didn’t like that word.
Sources at Zimra said the former president Mugabe ally did not pay import duties before he was summarily removed from power last year, reported New Zimbabwe.com.
Mphoko lost his job after the new administration led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over following the resignation of Mugabe last year after 37 years of rule, said a report bythe state-ownedHeraldnewspaper.
The former vice president was the second deputy appointed in 2014 by Mugabe, along with current president Mnangagwa.
Mphoko had flown to Japan on official business the day before the army took over the country in an operation that culminated in Mugabe’s ouster.
He eventually returned home in December after a brief stay in Botswana.