There have been some interesting developments regarding taxation in Zimbabwe of late. Not too long ago I did an article where I talked about the government’s move to tax digital products or services. The government is being relentless in its quest to widen its tax base. When taxation of digital products was announced it was clear there would be implications on some services. I guess it just was not yet clear how immediate those implications would spring into action. Well, it seems the action has begun as ZOL recently announced a 10 percent tax on all its internet packages, effective March 2022.
ZOL recently sent out a communique to its customers part of which read as follows:
“As a result of the regulatory changes, ZOL Zimbabwe is required to levy a 10 percent Excise Duty across all internet and VoIP packages effective 1 March 2022. For more information on how this affects your current package please visit www.zol.co.zw.”
Internet Access Fast Becoming A ‘Luxury’ In Zimbabwe
When the pandemic took root, Zimbabweans mostly became active online just like the rest of the world. This was a trend that was birthed through infirmity but was quite welcome. It did open doors (and still does) for things like online learning and eCommerce. I was glad to see that because Zimbabwe had been trailing behind relative to the rest of the world.
However, those gains have been derailed for some time now. Several factors are contributing to that. For starters, the economy is not in a good state right now. There is a semblance of stability but the truth is most people are in dire straits. So many people barely even manage to put food on their tables.
This has created a scenario where some things that ought to be basic and accessible to all become elusive. One of such things is data for internet access. I recently covered some latest data bundle reviews for Econet and NetOne. It is ironic to think that some data bundles are more or less equivalent to someone’s monthly salary out there. To such a person accessing the internet becomes a literal luxury meant for the select few.
Now we are seeing this update of ZOL announcing a 10 percent tax on all internet packages. This means all other internet service providers are going to do the same. From ZOL’s communique, it is clear this is in line with a government directive premised on the latest taxation policies. When that happens that means the cost of data will further go up as service providers brace themselves to maintain profitability. It has been bad as it is and it looks like it is about to get worse for many Zimbabweans.
Even more disappointing is how dismal service provision now is by many internet service providers. The huge disconnect between the already high costs of data and the service received is unacceptable. Then again you look closely and you realize those service providers are also victims of a porous economy as well. At the end of the day, the person who suffers the heaviest brunt from it all is the end-user or customer.