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Zimra workers challenge 'selective' lifestyle audits

by Staff reporter
07 Jul 2017 at 06:26hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority Trade Union (ZIMRATU), a representative of the taxman's workers, has objected to lifestyle audits targeting lower ranking staff saying the exercise must start from the bigwigs, who are living lavishly.

ZIMRATU vowed that it will not accept the "selective" lifestyle audit unless proper guidelines on how the exercise should be conducted were outlined. The workers contend that the audit was a way of harassing low ranking employees.

The top managers, who reportedly own more than five houses each in leafy suburbs, are excluded from the lifestyle audit, the workers said.

Zimbabwe Revenue Authority in December last year embarked on a massive lifestyle audit of its staff with the authority sniffing everywhere including bank accounts, mobile money transfers and the deeds office to establish properties registered in its employees' names or their families.

As part of the audit, employees were asked to justify any suspicious bank deposits, mobile money transfer transactions and the source of funds for properties in their names, spouses or children's names. In an application filed by Mr Jonathan Samukange of Venturas and Samukange this week, the workers argued that the audit was unlawful.

ZIMRATU president Mr John Chirenda deposed a founding affidavit calling for the termination of the audit, which he said was targeting the lower ranking staff.

"The lifestyle audit is being used to harass the lower ranking employees particularly members of ZIMRATU.

"Management officials are not members of the applicant and have been excluded from the lifestyle audit," reads the affidavit.

The workers said the employer should first outline proper audit guidelines and publicise them for transparency.

Efforts by the workers to get the guidelines were fruitless.

"At a meeting held by the respondent's management on the 25th of January 2017, we requested for proper lifestyle audit guidelines and that this be done in writing.

"To date, the applicant has not been provided with the guidelines. Applicant has also not been provided with an explanation why management and board members are not subject to the lifestyle audit," reads Mr Chirenda's affidavit.

Mr Chirenda indicated that the top management at ZIMRA were enjoying unbelievably high lifestyles and instead, they must be subjects of such audits.

"Their children go to the most expensive private schools and their grown up children drive the most expensive vehicles, for example, Mercedes Benz and Range Rovers.

"Their wives shop in the most expensive supermarkets and stores at Sam Levy's Village and other areas and some of them even have shares in most of the stock listed companies.

"No explanation has been given on how they have managed over the years, to acquire such wealth, especially if they are depending on their salaries," reads the affidavit.

The audits go as far as to question employees' bank statements up to 2005, the process has involved the parents of ZIMRA employees being questioned on personal information, from number of wives and children one has, to the amount of livestock their children have.

ZIMRA is yet to respond to the application before the matter is set down for hearing.

Source - the herald