Kudakwashe Mhundhwa and Michael Tome
The City of Harare has engaged the business community and property owners in the Central Business District to come up with a framework for the renewal of the inner city in a bid to restore a conducive business environment. Plans to revamp the city will include setting up structures that accommodate both small and large business activities. This comes as the business community had raised concerns over the chaotic state of the capital’s CBD and unfair competition, which they had been receiving from vendors and flea-market operators.
In an interview with The Herald Property, Acting Town Clerk Josephine Ncube, said council is working on a framework for the renewal of the CBD, which will ease tension between small and large businesses as well as the general disorder that was keeping big business away from the City Centre.
“The business community mainly raised concerns over the disorder and the competition, which they were receiving from vendors and flea-market operators who are not paying any rentals.
“They also mentioned that the general disorder in the CBD was keeping people away for example they said a lot of space in their buildings was empty because people have gone to the residential areas yet they are still expected to pay rates for the empty buildings.
“We want a city that is inclusive, which accommodates small and big businesses.
“Our economy right now is hinged on Small to Medium Enterprises and whatever plan we come up with should accommodate them,” said Mrs Ncube.
Small-to-medium Enterprises and Co-operatives Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni, is on record saying SMEs in Zimbabwe are now making up about 7 percent of registered taxpayers and contributing close to 20 percent to tax revenue following the collapse of the formal sector in recent years.
Figures released by ZIMRA show that nearly 14 000 SMEs registered to pay tax between January and June this year.
Under the same period SMEs were contributing 20-25 percent of the revenue collections.
The acting town clerk indicated that The City of Harare is working on converting some shopping complexes to suit SME standards.
She also pointed out that vendors play a major role in the economy and must be allocated formal space to operate from to avoid conflicts.
“As City of Harare, we are currently completing designs to transform shops at Samora Machel parkade into SME spaces and we recommend that other property owners who have vacant space to do the same.
“We also agreed that vendors have a role to play and they
must be accommodated, our plan is to accommodate everyone but in the right places to avoid
conflict, like having flea markets in front of clothing shops,” she said.