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Custom benefits in special economic zones in Zimbabwe

By Tatenda Tendayi

Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status is now granted in terms of the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency Act [Chapter 14:27] (the ZIDA Act) following the repeal of the Special Economic Zones Act. The ZIDA Act is administered by the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency to whom an application for SEZ status must now be made. There are no value thresholds for SEZ licensing.

Regulation 3 of the Customs and Excise (Special Economic Zones) (Rebate) Regulations, Statutory Instrument 59 of 2017 (SI 59) provides for a rebate of duty on raw materials, intermediate products, equipment and machinery as the Commissioner of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (the Commissioner) may approve when such goods are imported for use solely in an SEZ. The SEZ investor can only benefit from the rebate with respect to any one particular equipment or machinery once in a five-year period or such shorter period as the Commissioner may approve.

In order to benefit from the rebate, the Chief Executive Officer (or other responsible officer) of the SEZ investor must make a declaration to the Commissioner that the goods being imported will be for use solely in an SEZ. Goods imported under this rebate may not be disposed of or sold in any manner within five years of their importation without the Commissioner’s prior consent and payment of the duty which would have been paid on importation but for the rebate.

Key take-away

SEZ investors are entitled to a host of fiscal concessions provided for mainly in the Income Tax Act [Chapter 23:06] and the Finance Act [Chapter 23:04]. SI 59 further extends the concessions by providing for a customs rebate for SEZ investors.