City of Masvingo councillors have fumed at management for failing to enforce the payment of shop licences by businesses with the city only managing to issue licences to 138 business since the beginning of the year.
This came out during a full council meeting held at the Town House on March 29, 2021, where councillors fumed over ‘lack of seriousness’ on the part of the local authority.
Speaking during the meeting, Ward 8 councillor, Against Chiteme accused the management of not enforcing the licensing of business and shop operators for the past three months.
“You are not working, I can show you around town there are so many people operating without licenses and we are now in March. Where do you expect to get revenue from if you do not enforce a simple process like shop licence?
“There are a lot of businesses in town that have been operating for the past two years without licences and we ask how that is possible. What are you doing about that?
“Since January you have only managed to licence 138 businesses and you say you are working hard. I know of a certain complex where more than 10 people use one license,” said Chiteme.
Chiteme named the Tsungai complex as one of the premises where there is no compliance to the law as shop operators are reportedly dodging paying for their 2021 licenses.
Ward 10 councillor Sengerayi Manyanga accused some council bosses, who run businesses in town, of using their power to avoid paying shop licenses and threatening council police whenever they approach their premises seeking proof of license.
“We hear that some council officials are abusing powers. We all own businesses and we hear reports that some council police officers are turned away when they ask for licenses. We need the chief of police to report directly to the Acting Town Clerk and avoid some unnecessary protocols which may even fuel corruption,” said Manyanga.
In an interview with TellZim News after the meeting, Deputy Mayor and Ward 6 councillor Wellington Mahwende called upon the business community to comply with the law and said that officials should not abuse their social status.
“We encourage our people to do legal operations so they must come and pay for their licenses. There are various ways of making them pay including deploying our security but it’s good to just encourage them to come forward and get licensed.
“Everyone should pay their licenses regardless of their social status or position in the society. All businesses should operate and abide by the by-laws of the city,” said Mahwende.
The local authority was affected by the Covid-19 induced lockdown and licensing of shops could have been stalled by the closure of non-essential service providers who constitute the larger percentage of shop owners in the city.
Corner shops measuring between 1 to 25 square meters pay between $8 000 and $10 000 per year while those measuring 25 square meters to 100 square meters pay between $17 000 and $22 000 per year.