We are gathered here as the Fight Inequality Alliance-Zimbabwe, a coalition of 18 civil society organisations to elaborate the outcomes of the Global Week of Action Against Inequality which started on 15 January and ends on 22 January 2022. We represent the interests of various societal groups including people with disabilities, women, informal traders, people living with HIV, mining host communities among others.
The 2022 Global Week of Action is being held under the theme Time to Tax the Rich and build People’s Recovery Plans for Covid-19. This is a global annual event for the fight inequality movement worldwide where we mobilise citizens to unite and highlight the need for urgent actions to address the corrosive effects of the excessive concentration of wealth in the hands of unaccountable elites. During this week, we convened various platforms to channel ideas and alternatives highlighting the urgent reasons of why addressing deep-rooted tax induced inequality is central to securing the constitutional promise of a dignified, just, and peaceful life for all Zimbabweans as espoused in Section 3 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which recognises human dignity and equality as some of Zimbabwe’s founding values and principles as well as Chapter 4 which sets out the bill of rights.
Complimentary to social media activism and online dialogues, we held Information Cafes in Harare, Mutare, Hwange, Gweru and Bulawayo where we raised awareness and gathered citizen’s demands; a Twitter Space which sought expert assessments of the current tax regime and a “Festival of the Poor” rally where citizens made their key demands on key tax justice issues. Through these platforms, we have reached out to more 10 000 citizens and the demands that we make through this statement have come from the people and are for the people.
Ladies and gentlemen, Zimbabwe has reached a critical juncture where the Covid-19 pandemic has effectively become an inequality virus. Poverty levels rose to unprecedented levels with about 7.9 million Zimbabweans now living in extreme poverty, under the food poverty line of US$29.80 for each person a month (World Bank). At the same time, the rich and political elites and wealthy corporations registered an incredible rise in wealth and assets. Most of this wealth and assets is part of the massive transfer of wealth from the public sphere into private hands through primitive means of accumulation including unjust policies and corruption that enable corporates, the rich and political elites to hide their wealth and avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
The ill-gotten wealth of individuals intersects with efforts to dismantle legal and democratic safeguards resulting in an elite class immune from prosecution and arrest. Intensive lifestyle audits promised by ZACC in 2020, have not materialised yet due to the insulation of tax injustice by the few oligarchs and kleptocrats. Citizens have called for drastic actions to address the corrosive effects of the excessive and primitive concentration of wealth in the hands of unaccountable elites.
Tax injustices has become hard wired into the present economic system. Tax administration is rigged in favour of the elites at the expense of poor citizens. It has since departed from being progressive to regressive. Resultantly, the burden of taxation weighs heavily on the shoulders of the poor Zimbabweans in violation of Section 298 (1)(b)(i) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which stipulates that the burden of taxation must be shared fairly.
The 2% tax doubles and triple taxes the poor in online transactions, yet the elites are insulated by their fat pockets. We stand opposed to the increase of Withholding Tax from 10% to 30% assented in the Finance Act No 7 of 2021 as it further strains the already repressed incomes of the poor. Unfortunately, citizens are overtaxed yet public service delivery and investment in social services infrastructure is on the decline which is an act of tax injustice.
Some multinational corporations are being given arbitrary, unreasonable, unjustified and unsustainable tax incentives. Examples include Huawei Technologies income tax exemption and the 5-year tax exemption to Great Dyke Investments (GDI). The same government is taxing the ordinary citizen to the last cent. The tax regime in Zimbabwe is anti-people.
COVID-19 kills but inequality is a virus that has certainly killed more Zimbabweans than coronavirus. Some died because they could not get essential medical care in public hospitals when they needed it yet the elites seek quality healthcare abroad. The Herald of 5 September 2019 reported that a pregnant woman died together with her child at Parirenyatwa Hospital allegedly due to negligence by medical staff manning the maternity ward. Others who lived South of Samora died of cholera because they had no access to essential water and sanitation services. Many youths got trapped and died in undignified mining pits trying to eke a living. Unfortunately, inequality is a virus that kills only the poor and because of this, the government and authorities are turning a blind eye to it.
The following key demands underscore our collective demand for tax justice in Zimbabwe following the successful Week of action:
For more information contact us: Email: email@example.com Cell: +263 71 543 1035 Facebook Page: Fight Inequality Alliance-Zimbabwe Twitter @FiaZimbabwe
About the Zimbabwe Fight Inequality Alliance
The Zimbabwe Fight Inequality Alliance is a broad-based network of 18 members comprising of social movements, women’s rights groups, faith-based organisations, labour unions and individuals committed to challenging and reversing the unfair distribution of wealth, power, opportunities, social status, access and control of resources in Zimbabwe. The Alliance exists to strengthen collective action to transform Zimbabwe’s highly unequal society and provide a common platform of action to build a just, equitable and prosperous nation. The Fight Inequality Alliance envisions a Zimbabwe in which wealth, power, opportunities, social status, access and control of resources are distributed in a just and equitable manner to enable all Zimbabweans to enjoy their full rights, dignity and an acceptable standard of living as full citizens of their own society.