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Harare City Council raked in $3,3 million from business licencing following a three-month-long blitz on unlicensed businesses in and around the city.
The licencing and revenue collection exercise was spearheaded by the City Health and Chamber Secretary departments.
According to recent minutes of the Education Health, Housing and Community Services and Licensing Committee, the exercise started in February but intensified on April 9.
“The exercise had started in February with a few municipal police and Zimbabwe Republic Police but was intensified on April 9, when municipal police officers joined in compliance with council’s request for enhanced revenue collection.”
From February 4 to April 12, almost 8 500 businesses were visited around Harare,
“A total of 8 423 were visited from February 4 to April 12, of which 3 630 were licensed. Of the 4030 businesses which were not licensed, 684 were unlicensable. A total of $3 215 011,22 revenue has been realised from the exercise.”
A potential amount of more than $130 000 was also realised from this exercise.
“There was potential revenue of $132 876 from new applications which were processed in areas already covered but not yet paid for by the applicants,” read the minutes.
Council heard that in accordance with the licencing exercise’s plan, the city was divided into four quadrants and the Avenues area for ease of operation and the first and second quadrant had already been completed.
“Quadrant 1 and 2 had been completed, the exercise would then move to the western, southern, eastern and northern districts.”
Environmental health officers (EHOs) were withdrawn from the districts to beef up the central business district teams.
A total of 64 municipal officers were requested to commence operations, but only 30 were deployed.
Health Services Director Dr Prosper Chonzi reported that some of the challenges faced during this exercise where complications with the BIQ system and the shortages of labour and transport.
“The challenges encountered in the exercise included shortage of staff and transport, payment for business licences was hindered by the BIQ system which was down since 19 March 2019 to date.”
The minutes also said harassment of officials by business operators, bribery, among other vices, were also cited as obstacles to this exercise, leading to the re-introduction of spot fines.
“There were also harassment reports by business operators and asking for bribes. Business operators closed shops and some became aggressive towards the officers. There was need to reintroduce spot fines to be issued by EHOs. Lack of arresting powers by the municipal police was also a challenge.”
The city says payment of business licences allows the city to fund its service delivery mandate.