Ivan Zhakata-Herald Correspondent
In a move to force businesses in Harare Metropolitan province to comply with all licensing and tax laws and by-laws, police have charged 1025 businesses and arrested their operators for operating in breach of regulations following the lapse of the final seven-day ultimatum for business-owners to regularise their businesses.
Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Harare Metropolitan Mr Tafadzwa Muguti issued an ultimatum warning businesses to be compliant with all regulations.
More than 70 percent of businesses in Harare province were alleged to be operating in breach of regulations and by-laws.
Some had not renewed their licences or paid taxes and rates recently while others had never bothered.
Presenting the business compliance and anti-corruption report during a Provincial Development Committee meeting for Harare Metropolitan province yesterday, Chief Superintendent Passmore Nhetekwa said police have charged a total of 1025 businesses for non-compliance.
He also noted that this work should have been done by the local authorities within the province, with the police just providing back-up when necessary, by the councils were not enforcing their own by-laws.
The arrests and charges followed a blitz launched after the lapse of the seven-day ultimatum by Mr Muguti’s office.
“A total of 1025 business operators were arrested for non-compliance while 593 illegal structures were demolished,” he said.
“Of the 1025 businesses, 723 had no tax compliance certificates, 10 had expired licences, 32 had no liquor licences while 97 had no medical permits. 133 had no tax clearance certificates while two failed to declare their licences and one had an expired permit.”
Chief Sup Nhetekwa said a further five business operators were arrested for not having approved plans while nine had no permits.
He said they also arrested people who had turned part of the Mupedzanhamo market in Mbare into a car park.
Chief Sup Nhetekwa said they were aware of the ignorance of the by-laws by community members and the law will take its course.
“There is an element of stubbornness in various communities which has led to arrests and prosecution. We are working with various stakeholders in doing awareness campaigns to conscientise people to comply with the law or risk being arrested and prosecuted,” he said.
On the issue of enforcing by-laws, Chief Sup Nhetekwa said the police played second role to local authorities who had the primary mandate to enforce by-laws.
“We assist them whenever they need our help and we have always been helping them. Order and sanity in the city is the primary job of a local authority and we play the second role. Our officers should be out there guarding against criminal activities not enforcing council by-laws.”
Mr Muguti said as the provincial development committee they were tasked with coordinating the entire devolution agenda in the Harare Metropolitan province which included the practical implementation of Government and local authorities’ programmes.
“We have streamlined our provincial economic development planning to be aligned to NDS1. We have picked about 10 thematic areas and we have established about 10 thematic working groups which have thematic committees and those thematic committees are actually chaired by the private sector and civil society and deputised by government officials.
“It is an amalgamation of the public and private sector.
The thematic committees have oversight of all the programmes that we are implementing. This is a transparent way of showing the general public and the citizenry at large what we are doing as a province,” he said.
There were also presentations on the digital economy, moving up the value chain, human capital development, environment protection, town planning, infrastructure and utilities and governance among others.