By A Correspondent- Business operators in Harare are up in arms with the local government authority after the council hiked shop licence fees by over 1 000%.
A survey conducted by ZBC News in Harare’s Central Business District indicated that non-factory shops and food purveyors are now required to pay over ZWL$1 million, up from an average of ZWL$200 000.
Said Business operator, Killian Muzorori:
I used to pay ZWL200 000, but when I went to pay my shop license fees for this year, I was asked to pay US$1 100.
Several shops are on the verge of closing and moving out of the central business district. Noted another business operator, Mr Chris Manguni:
We are on the verge of closing shop because we are failing to pay the shop license fees. Our plea is that the responsible authorities review downwards the operator’s fees or else we are left with no option, but to close our shops which are sustaining a lot of families.
Harare City Council Director of Health Services, Dr Prosper Chonzi confirmed that the council had hiked shop licence fees by 1 000% saying the city fathers were implementing their 2023 budget.
The Harare City Council was recently forced to review vehicle clamping fees downwards from US$137 to US$57 after a public outcry over the high clamping fees.
Speaking recently, Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume said the city fathers need to review their licencing fees. He said:
A lot of people are complaining. If you move from a premise, you can’t move with your licence. You have to pay again. Even if you do renovations. We also need to look at our licensing payment methods. We might need to introduce a quarterly payment system so that people can lessen the burden of paying and we might need a reduction in the quantum. I got a call from the Hairdressers Association. They wrote a letter complaining about the fees which means it’s a serious issue. Something went wrong when we were preparing the budget because almost everything went up.
Mafume added that they had instructed the council’s finance committee to look into and review the licence fees.
In January this year, the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works approved ninety-two budgets for 2023 presented by local authorities, with four being rejected for various reasons.
A number of small to medium enterprise businesspersons signed a petition against the increase saying they were not consulted on issues of city budgets.
One businesswoman operating hair salons in the capital said her licence fee went up from US$400 to US$640.