The Sunday Mail
DHL Zimbabwe is allegedly externalising over US$250 000 per month to Deutsche Post DHL — the company’s headquarters in Germany — in network fees collected through the controversial clearance fees which has sparked outrage among Zimbabweans.
The company has also been accused of misappropriating over US$200 000 in staff pension funds which were realised after the demutualisation of Old Mutual that saw the sale of 10 500 shares.
Investigations by The Sunday Mail revealed DHL Zimbabwe has been pumping US$250 000 per month to Germany through Standard Chartered Bank, Africa Unity Square branch, account number 8700210332800 using Real Time Gross Settlement Systems (RTGS).
These cases have since been reported to the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate (NECI) — a Government investigating unit under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
According to correspondence in possession of The Sunday Mail, the matter was reported to NECI on December 12, 2011 and was being handled by a senior investigator Mr Clever Mukwena.
In e-mails seen by this newspaper, Mr Mukwena confirmed that he launched investigations into allegations against the courier services provider.
However, no immediate comment could be obtained from the NECI last week.
In a letter written to the NECI by a whistle-blower, DHL is externalising the money in what the company called International Delivery Cost when in fact these are network fees which are supposed to attract a 20 percent withholding tax payable to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra).
Part of the letter reads: “I believe if they conduct their investigations properly about US$2 million penalty should be imposed on DHL. This fee is currently calculated as 13 percent of revenue.”
The network fees, sources said, were scrapped in 2006 in other countries following extensive lobbying by the former DHL managing director for Sub-Sahara Africa Mr Dave Spargo.
“It’s only Zimbabwe which is paying the network fees and the company is evading paying the 20 percent withholding tax to Zimra,” added the source.
DHL Zimbabwe torched a storm after revelations that the company was charging US$50 for clearance of incoming dutiable shipments valued at US$51 to US$999 and US$120 for goods valued at US$1 000 and above.
The company has for the past four weeks failed to explain the exact nature of the charges.
The main point of contention is the fact that the charge is only levied against Zimbabweans while other recipients of parcels across the globe receive their items without making extra payments.
The parcels would have already been paid for in full by the sender.
Information obtained last week showed that apart from the controversial clearance fees, DHL was also collecting large amounts of cash through Removal In Transit (RIT) fees billed for clearing trucks at borders — especially at the busy Beitbridge Border Post.
The money collected from the RITs and clearance fees is then posted to Deutsche Post DHL in Germany as network fees.
“The network fees are actually profits made by the company through clandestine means,” said the source.
A Bulawayo businesswoman who preferred did not want to be named in this report said: “My brother-in-law usually sends parcels to my mother-in-law and I collect on her behalf. The first few times we paid the money (clearance fees).
“But my brother-in-law insisted that he had paid everything including customs. This has happened since 2008. My mother-in-law is in the US now and she took all the previous receipts on which double payment was done; my brother-in-law just lost it and he went back to a DHL branch in USA where he had sent the parcel from and demanded a refund. They (DHL officials) contacted Harare and had a showdown.”
Questions DHL is refusing to answer
The DHL country manager Mr Stalin Tauya met with The Sunday Mail editor on March 3, 2013. He refused to answer any of the questions put to him.
1. Why are these extra clearance charges only levied against Zimbabweans?
2. What do these clearance charges cover and does DHL make a profit from them?
3. How did DHL arrive at a charge US$50 for parcels valued up to US$999 and US$120 for parcel valued US$1000 upwards?
4. What is the material difference in clearing a parcel worth US$900 and clearing a parcel worth $1 000 to necessitate the US$70 increase in clearing charges?
5. How much have you already collected from these clearance charges and how is it represented in your accounting?