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It’s the poor who suffer the most due to tax injustice

Compiled by Susan Muchena -Marange Development Trust.

12 November 2021

Tax evasion, tax dodging, tax exemption, illicit financial flows the list is endless that is crippling our nation. Once a nation is crippled then we the women especially young women suffer the most. Women and girls living in rural areas /marginalized areas suffer the most when public services are starved of adequate funding. This includes lack of access to free quality public health care, water, education, child care ,social protection and sexual and reproductive health services and lack of safe public transport that makes cities safer and more accessible for women, thus we call for tax reforms that will allow government to invest in people through infrastructure ,education, health, housing and social protection.

Illicit financial flows are movements of money or capital from one country to another or funds that are illegally earned transferred and/or utilized across on international border. The term includes tax evasion, tax avoidance scheme by transnational corporation, money laundering and transfer funds from bribery corruption and criminal activities. This is also happening in the mining section from mega contract deals to auctioning of the natural resources and these acts directly affect the citizens including newly born babies.

Young women in Zimbabwe are bearing the cost of regressive taxation. We use greater portion of our income on basic goods and services due to gender normal that involves care work. On these basic goods there is a direct feel of VAT that drains us day and night whilst major companies operating in Marange are failing to pay royalties and taxes, yet they are mining precious diamonds in Marange. Illicit financial flows prevent a county in mobilizing the resources required for inclusive and equitable development. The resulting financial resource outflows ultimately narrows the national tax base thus raise in basic goods prices disproportionately affecting the poorest households in rural areas and mining community especially us young woman who have several responsibilities.

Tax avoidance and tax breaks have deprived several communities of development especially in the mining communities to the extent that we as young women want to advocate for No To Mining. Instead of benefiting from the official mining in Marange we have suffered to the extent that Manicaland is rated among the poorest province in Zimbabwe although the Province has precious stones being mined. Social justice requires that those who are of greater means and receive greater benefits of tax policy should be responsible for a greater weight of tax burdens, unlike women who are paying tax even on buying a packet of pads that are needed monthly for the natural cycle.

Women are more dependent on public services as the majority are living on US $1 per day or less especially in mining communities. With corporate companies failing to pay taxes that means no inclusive and equitable development, thus increasing the unpaid care work done by women. When policy makers allocate public resources, they have to ensure allocation towards service delivery is enhanced.  For example, women from Rombe village are walking for over 8km to fetch clean water. This has reduced the time women can spend in participating in income generating projects (vegetables selling,mutsvare)and other activities.

In addition, lack of proper health facility and medication means when one gets sick at home a woman is expected to leave other things and provide care even a girl failing to go to school so as to look after a sick brother so as to play the gender roles .Of late there has been an outbreak of malaria caused by open pits in mining yet there is no proper medication at Chiyadzwa and Mukwada clinics.

The ailing health sector in Marange is a major problem for young women as we are alternating for home deliveries that are very dangerous as there are higher chances of mortality rate. With the presence of both Anjin and Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) the community expected improved health services with enough medication. The proliferation of mining companies has also seen different people from different communities moving into Marange in search of employment. The area has even recorded outbreaks of sexual transmitted diseases, accidents and even unplanned pregnancies. ZCDC has not done much it terms of tax payment or perform corporate social responsibility looking at the 2019 auditor’s general report that mentioned the vanished US $140 million worth of diamonds leaving the mining communities even poorer with dust pollution, water, pollution, and environmental degradation. Women’s roles have been added including the need to be more careful with children to prevent them from falling in open pits, walking long distance to fetch firewood.

Through the 2030 Agenda, global leaders and countries such as Zimbabwe have made a commitment to improves the lives of the people. The Zimbabwean government has to meet international commitments to maximize available resources notably through progressive and just taxation. We, women with the help of civil society we should campaign for the government to invest in quality health care, improvement in public service delivery, vital to fulfilling human and women rights and ending gender inequality. Young women should be in decision making position so as to practise gender budgeting to ensure tax revenue are raised and spent in ways that promote gender equality, campaign for reforms in the tax system so that they do not discriminate against women. Women need to join hands and fight for rights of all women to have an equal say in how public money is spent, attending all public meetings including and not limited to Village development meetings and budget consultative meetings. In all these engagements, women should participate and share their opinions.

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