Tax Resistance in Africa

Black-market carpentry is booming in Zimbabwe, the Inter Press Service reports:

All right, smart guy, what do YOU think I should've used for art?A&MAccording to the Informal Woodworkers' Association, a Harare-based organisation, 18,500 people are currently engaged in informal carpentry in the capital.

"Most carpenters here shun practicing formally, evading operational costs from local and government authorities for the land and resources they use, resulting in close to 20,000 people turning to informal carpentry. Indeed it is a sharp rise from about 7,000 back in 2009," the association's chairperson, Dickson Mapuranga, tells IPS.

I found that article via Robert Neuwirth, a left-leaning journalist who writes frequently about informal markets in the Third World. Neuwirth notes that the number of people working as formal, taxpaying carpenters dropped in the same period by almost the same amount. "Conclusion: the jobs have moved off the books," he writes.

Naturally, Zimbabwe's dictatorship isn't happy to see that money go. Neuwirth comments:

An anonymous official complained to IPS that the carpentry business is so strong that the government is losing $32 million a month in unpaid taxes. But, as one sensible carpenter noted, taxation is a social contract: "Paying the government tax for our activities depends on what we also get from them. But we are getting nothing."

Well, not quite nothing. "We are harassed daily by so-called plain clothes officials from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority," that carpenter tells IPS.

Bonus link: Our review of Neuwirth's book Shadow Cities.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • PD Scott||

    Informal carpentry, like when your tool belt doesn't match your work boots.

  • Square||

    White workpants after Labor Day.

  • ||

    Perhaps this, Jesse?

  • Brett L||

    I was gonna go with a still from Toto's Africa.

  • Square||

    Not sure her PPE is being worn correctly.

  • ||

    All right, smart guy, what do YOU think I should've used for art?

    A picture of John Carpenter. Duh.

  • ||

    Could it be a sexy John Carpenter?

  • ||

    You find one and get back to me. Meanwhile, I'll instead suggest Kim Cattrall in Big Trouble in Little China.

  • ||

    Clearly showing your ignorance, for not instead citing Suzee Pai.

  • ||

    No, just showing my superior taste.

  • ||

    Boy you west coasters are weird. It must be all the rain.

  • sloopyinca||

    Epi's a displaced New Yorker. Don't lump the rest of us in with that mongoloid.

  • ||

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    They don't call it the Dark Continent because they fill out a lot of forms.

  • Invisible Finger||

    All right, smart guy, what do YOU think I should've used for art?

    Construction Time Again?

  • StatsGuru||

    Seems like it's yesterday once more. :-)

  • Hyperion||

    All right, smart guy, what do YOU think I should've used for art?

    Something that isn't so obviously racist!?

  • sloopyinca||

    All right, smart guy, what do YOU think I should've used for art?

    This, you dumb bastard.

  • Jordan||

    How dare they work without asking permission? Better they be jobless and starving! Oh, and by the way, there's absolutely no way that regulations destroy jobs. None.


  • Medical Physics Guy||

    How can they expect their economy to recover if they don't keep faith in their public institutions?

  • MJGreen||

    These guys don't want to pay government what its owed? RACISTS!!!

  • Paul.||

    Zimbabwe Africa Black Markets Taxes


  • pan fried wylie||


  • Sevo||

    Get paid under the table. In loaves.

  • Swiss Servator, Käse, Käse!||

    And fishes - someone tried wine once, but he said "no thanks, make it m'self."

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    All right, smart guy, what do YOU think I should've used for art?


    Or this.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Those I actually thought about using.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Any government official in Zimbabwe should be thankful he's not swinging from a lamppost.



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