Strive Masiyiwa, one of Africa’s leading entrepreneurs, has urged young African entrepreneurs to register their businesses properly, and treat the payment of taxes as their highest civic and patriotic duty as citizens.
Speaking on his coaching sessions for young entrepreneurs across Africa, the billionaire who built a telecoms and technology business across Africa, said paying taxes was something they should always feel proud to do, as citizens of their countries.
“Even if you don’t like the government of the day, or think there is too much corruption, it is not justification for you to refuse to pay taxes,” said Masiyiwa, who often speaks out against corruption.
He added that the development prospects of many countries had been crippled by low tax collection rates, which leaves very little room for government resources.
An excerpt of Masiyiwa’s coaching session:
Maronga Evans Snr wrote,
Strive Masiyiwa, this changed my thinking. Thank you Dr. Many people, including myself fear an animal called tax. We do not register thinking our business are still young and not ready to be registered and taxed. Today i have an answer to my fears. I believe those who fear tax have also changed. Thank you.
“Paying tax is the biggest contribution an entrepreneur makes to their country.
The key is not to fear paying tax, but to understand how it works, so that you pay what is required of you.
Failing to explain to citizens what tax is and how it works, has crippled the development of many countries.
We should all be taught about the civic and patriot responsibility of paying taxes. It is not optional or for certain people. Everyone must pay tax.
I remember when I first arrived in Zimbabwe and started working for ZPTC (Zimbabwe Posts and Telecommunications). I was so proud when I saw that my payslip had tax deductions. I took my pay slip home and showed my grandmother:
“Gogo, look, I am paying taxes. Now I’m helping to develop Zimbabwe, not just with my skills but also by paying for things like schools and hospitals.”
Less than 15 years later, I got a letter from the tax authority to say I was officially the largest single taxpayer.
I wished I had been able to see my grandmother and explain it to her.
But I knew that fierce old lady, who used to hide freedom fighters, would have been very proud of me for playing my part in helping to build the modern Zimbabwe.
I have paid taxes in so many African countries, and I pay taxes in countries where I live.
The most unpatriotic thing a person can do is to refuse to pay taxes, when they have the capacity to do so.
As an entrepreneur, I pay personal taxes but most importantly, I build businesses that are successful enough to pay taxes in more than 20 African countries.
To imagine that one day I might be gone but the companies I leave behind will continue to contribute to the nations with services and taxes, is the coolest thing ever!
My dream is to be in at least 50 countries by the time I retire — and to be paying taxes there.
That is what a modern #Patriot is all about!
The most immature and unpatriotic thing a person can do is to opt out of paying taxes simply because others don’t do so, or because they don’t like or trust the government of the day.
Even if you believe they are the most corrupt, you still pay taxes, because that is your duty to the nation itself.”