The Interview Segment: Mr. Happias Kuzvinzwa


ZIMRA Commissioner Mr. Happias Kuzvinzwa was interviewed by Larry Liza, the Programme Coordinator
of the WCO ESA ROCB, on the 20th September, 2013, outside Azmut Hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia – the venue of the PICARD 2013 Conference.

For his simplicity and humility, you wouldn’t notice him in a crowd. He will sit comfortably wherever one directs him in a conference or meeting room. But whenever he speaks, the crowd goes quiet and the meeting room listens
deeply to the words of wisdom that flow from his heart. He strikes me as a peacemaker.

Zimbabwe border crossing

Meet Mr. Happias Kuzvinzwa, the Commissioner for Customs of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA). He has served in that capacity since 2010, having had a two  decade stint with the then Department of Customs and Excise, where he rose to the position of Assistant Commissioner. In 2000, he took up a Consulting job with COMESA to
draft the COMESA Customs Act. He then joined SADC as a Customs and Trade Facilitation Advisor. As the Project Leader, he was responsible for the development of the SADC Model Customs Management Act, Trade Facilitation Instruments, the SADC road map to a customs union and its respective instruments, Customs training modules as well as conducting capacity building. He then worked as a Consultant for ZIMRA where he assisted in the development of its Modernization Blueprint.

We are at the sidelines of the PICARD Conference 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Having interacted with Mr.
Kuzvinzwa before and partaken from his wisdom, I considered him a natural choice for the first interview for this ESA Newsletter and he gladly accepted my request. I ask him what he appreciates most about working for ZIMRA.

I am glad to be part of the ZIMRA Vision, to be a beacon of excellence in the provision of fiscal services and facilitation of trade and travel.

The Commissioner considers it is a privilege to work and contribute to the development of Zimbabwe through Customs. “Customs makes or breaks an economy”, he adds, “and I will endeavour to use my expertise and
experience for my country.”

‘Has your life been an easy ride?’ I ask. ‘Oh, it is never easy. It doesn’t come with a straight jacket. One must burn the midnight candle; focus on the target, aiming at the moon and at worst hit the stars!’ The Christian Commissioner says that his successes stem from upholding Biblical principles and values. He acknowledges the support of his family, church, friends, colleagues at ZIMRA, and then quickly gives up on the count. Then his face lights up when he begins to talk of his mentor, a man he describes as an inspiration and anchor to his success. He emphasizes his mentor’s faith and fear of God and it turns out to be his boss, Commissioner General G. T. Pasi! ‘So, what makes you two gel so seamlessly?’ He looks up to the sky, the Russian weather seems to be conspiring against the interview
as it starts drizzling. I wonder if I should ask that we relocate indoors from the park. He then smiles, admires some pigeons flying around us. I almost wonder if one pigeon will rest on his shoulder. He says, ‘The Commissioner General has an amazing attitude towards people – that all men are created equal in the eyes of God.’