AT a time when a number of ministers are experiencing nightmares over constrained funding for some of their departments due to the precarious nature of government’s finances, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Obert Mpofu must be counting himself lucky.
Mpofu is sure to heave a sigh of relief as the burdens upon his shoulders have been lessened following the decision by the Executive to transfer the collection of tollgate fees to the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA), which falls under his ministry.
The function was previously vested in the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), which is under the Ministry of Finance, now headed by Patrick Chinamasa.
For a man who was in charge of the mines ministry during the life of the inclusive government, which had the sole authority over the country’s mineral riches, including diamonds, a move to the Transport Ministry had appeared not so attractive.
But following his arrival at the Transport Ministry, he has made sure that his ministry becomes one of the richest portfolios in government by bringing tollgate fees under ZINARA’s wings.
The transfer of the collection of the funds from ZIMRA to ZINARA was announced in a supplement to the Government Gazette last Friday in statutory instrument 147 of 2013.
“It is hereby notified that the Minister of Transport and Infrastru-ctural Development has, in terms of section Six of the Toll Roads Act (chapter 13:13) made the following regulations — (1) these regulations may be cited as the Road Tolls (Regional Trunk Road Network) Regulations, 2013 (No 55),” reads part of statutory instrument number 147.
“The Road Tolls (Regional Trunk Road Network) Regulations, 2009 published in statutory deletion of the word ZINARA and the substitution of Zimbabwe National Road Admini-stration (ZINARA) wherever it occurs. This amendment is with effect from 1st October, 2013.”
Government statistics show that between August 18, 2009 and April 10, 2012 ZIMRA collected US$57 million in tollgate fees and remitted US$47 million, retaining US$10 million in the process for administrative purposes.
The new arrangement means that ZINARA would retain all the toll funds.
While ZINARA has become a truly prized family treasure, Mpofu’s headaches will only come from perennial loss-making entities such as Air Zimbabwe and the National Railways of Zimbabwe, which were forever begging for funds.
During Mpofu’s tenure at the mines ministry, there were persistent claims from Treasury that diamond proceeds were being looted, claims he dismissed.