Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda yesterday said he received reports that some people last week approached some shop owners demanding as much as US$25 000 claiming to be acting on behalf of the city.
These purported license fees are way above the city’s which average $500 for the whole year.
Masunda said the imposters are reportedly moving from shop-to-shop threatening the owners, mostly Indians, telling them that their licenses would not be renewed if it turned out that the directors are not Zimbabweans.
“I have also received reports that council officials are denying non-citizen shop owners’ licenses,” he said. “Shop operators have also been forced to produce the form CR14 which gives details on the directors of the business.”
This comes at the back of threats by Zanu PF Harare province structures that foreigners running shops in the city would be dispossessed of the businesses and replaced with party supporters.
Led by district coordinating chairman Jaison Pasadi, the Zanu PF supporters have since approached the City Fathers demanding that they flout council by-laws to empower locals.
Among others, Chinese and Nigerian nationals run several shops in the city where they sell clothes, electricals, and household merchandise as well as hair and beauty accessories.
Citizens of Indian origin also have a significant presence in the country’s small scale sector.
Masunda said foreign shop owners were granted licenses after satisfying town planning and health requirements.
The council requires all applicants to produce documentary evidence that they are entitled to operate a business in Harare before issuing them with a license.
Applicants’ choice of premises also has to be permissible to their intended business and these premises should address health concerns by having ablution facilities for both the clientele and workers.
“As the City Fathers, we have a town planning and a licensing mandate,” Masunda said. “We are not interested in who people are in partnership with, there is no law that compels us to look into that.”
He urged shop owners not to give anyone any money but to refer all demands to the City Treasurer’s Department and also his office so they could be looked into.