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ZIMRA fine threatens collapse of two of Africa’s most popular tourist destinations, owners appeal to President Mnangagwa

Clayton Masekesa

MUTARE – Owners of SkyWalk and SkyLine – two of Africa’s most popular tourist destinations in the scenic Nyanga tourist resort in Zimbabwe, have pleaded with President Emmerson Mnangagwa to intervene over a RTGS$750,000 fine they were slapped with by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority for their alleged tax evasion.

The fine is for the period of nine years, but the owners say the ZIMRA move might force the famous tourist attractions to close shop. One of the owners, Chris Craig, recently wrote a letter to Mnangagwa calling for the president’s intervention.

“We feel that we are right and have done everything within the laws of Zimbabwe. We would like to avoid at all costs a costly, emotionally draining, time consuming court case. We are therefore asking for the Office of the President to urgently intervene in this matter,” reads the letter.

“We are trying to build up the Eastern Highlands as much as possible as it is a beautiful part of Zimbabwe that people need to get to see and in the spirit of nation building and Zimbabwe is open for Business.”

Craig argues that his organisation is a fully registered Educational Facility compliant with all laws of Zimbabwe.  He says ZIMRA subsequently refused to accept the certificates for a number of reasons suggesting that they were not valid and are now raising an invoice for VAT plus penalties on educational income of $2,500 000 for the last 9 years which is 15% VAT and 100% penalty on this figure – a sum close to $750,000.

“We are registered with local government and National Parks as an Education Facility. We submitted the following documents to ZIMRA:

“1) Letter from Nyanga National Parks authorising us as an Educational facility. 2) Our land (Lot 16 Pamushana) is registered with Nyanga Rural District council as an Education facility. 3) We were under audit by ZIMRA for the year 2013 for over two years in which time they disallowed some of our expenses which incurred a fee of $7 000 which we paid. We then appealed for amnesty on the extra 100% penalty which we were granted. We believed that this would be it but they then asked why we were not VAT registered,” added Craig.

“If this invoice is raised against us, we will have to close the business with all of its implications.”

The SkyWalk and SkyLine is a major tourist attraction in Africa that has attracted huge numbers of domestic and foreign tourists and is helping tourism and the economy grow in the country.

The SkyWalk is a tourism destination with two 30-metre and 90-metre suspension bridges that are designed to look like vines above the falls allowing a full mid-air view of the Mutarazi Falls.

The SkyLine is one of the zip line in the world where one can fly through clouds or crystal clear skies over the second highest waterfall in Africa.

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