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Zimbabwe's 40% import duty on books condemned

Activists say the duty will put the price of books, including school text books, beyond the reach of most.

The education sector & book lovers in Zimbabwe have condemned the decision.

JOHANNESBURG - The education sector and book lovers in Zimbabwe have condemned a decision by President Robert Mugabe's government to slap a 40 percent import duty on books.

Activists say the duty will put the price of books including school text books beyond the reach of most.

Former Education Minister David Coltart says the new tax violates an agreement Zimbabwe signed with UNESCO in 1998, promising not to impose duty on book imports.

He says the new 40 percent tax will undermine schools and libraries, which are still battling to recover.

During his four-year tenure as minister in Zimbabwe's coalition government, Coltart oversaw a donor-funded project to distribute millions of new text books in schools.

Arts and culture rights group, the Nhimbe Trust, says this new duty was imposed to protect local publishers, but will instead create shortages of books and harm children's education.

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