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Govt orders foreigners to get required documentation to continue operating businesses

By Anna Chibamu

Government has told foreigners to get proper documentation for them to operate businesses after it emerged that some expats running tuckshops in Harare’s downtown area are supposed to be living in refugee camps.

Industry and Commerce minister Sithembiso Nyoni on Monday said government does not wish to drive foreigners out of Zimbabwe but urged them to create a good working environment.

During a tour of the small retail shops (Tuckshops) in Harare’s Central Business District (CBD), it emerged most nationals from DRC, Pakistan and Nigeria dominate a sector wholly reserved for Zimbabweans yet most of them did not possess the required operating licences.

At one of the shops visited by Nyoni, a Congolese refugee had no documentation to run a shop and was supposed to be living in a refugee camp.

The Harare City Council gave a shop licence to the man under unclear circumstances.

“Retail is a reserved sector for Zimbabweans but we are not closing foreigners out.

“There is a threshold. A foreign national has a certain trading threshold but if you go below that threshold, you are breaking the laws of Zimbabwe.

“We do not want to chase anyone away. I will only implement the laws l am responsible for so make sure you do have the required documentation to operate business in Zimbabwe,” Nyoni informed the foreign businessowners.

As she moved from one shop to the other, many issues came up.

Under the Trade Act, retailers should place commodities on shelves but in most of the tuckshops, food items were on the floor and some had turned the small partitioned spaces into wholesales, an arrangement the minister said was unlawful.

“I am concerned about the food items on the floor. These are supposed to be on shelves.

“I want to make sure that consumers are protected too,” Nyoni added.

A representative of the Tuckshops Association Chamunorwa Mukova told that ZIMRA and Council charges were exorbitant.

“We cannot get loans from banks. Also we have small spaces for the nature of our business. We are calling on government to make sure ZIMRA charges are reduced.”

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