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    Monday, 3 July 2017

    Influx of vendors affecting our ability to pay rates - Masvingo business tells council



    NKULUMANI MLAMBO

    MASVINGO – Businessmen in Masvingo have told the City Council that they cannot clear a $6 million debt they owe the local authority through rates because businesses have collpased due to the influx of vendors in the town.
    The sentiments are contained in a petition to council in response to letters of demand sent to the business persons by Masvingo City Council lawyers early this month. The letters of demand insisted that the business people should clear their debts by June 9 2017 or their properties would be auctioned.
    The petition however, said most commercial buildings that they run now are just shells as vendors have taken over the market. They said they no longer make enough money to pay rates.
    They also appealed to council to remove the case from its lawyers as this is burdening the companies which are on the verge anyway. Masvingo City Council laywers are demanding 10% commission for collecting the the debts.
    "There is currently too many unlicensed and unregistered tuck shops, industries, salons, shabeens, welding, mushrooming in the city. How can you trade when vendors are almost everywhere selling the same wares like you in streets, houses, tuck shops, car boot right in front of your shop or in your street?
    "All our businesses are now offered everywhere yet we pay for licences and other fixed charges to Council," reads the petition.
    The business persons also argued that the economic situation was also too harsh for them to be able to pay the rates. They cited the decision by council to shut down almost all its beer halls as a clear sign of the harsh economic times.
    Masvingo Mayor Herbert Fidze told The Mirror in an interview that he had seen the letter and council shall sit to look into its contents.
    "We are struggling to pay the principal, why load us with more charges like lawyers' collection commission of 10%. We appeal to Council as city fathers to really empathise with us,".
    Fidze said the matter will most probably be discussed in a full council meeting scheduled for June 30 2017.
    The business persons who have most of their operations in the high density suburb of Mucheke said their financial woes have been worsened by the fact that long distance busses were no longer using Mucheke Rank but were loading passengers from the city centre.
    Fidze said the total amount owed to council is well over $46million by Government institutions, residents and business community.
    "Government and quasi government institutions owe Council $33million, high density residents $6.5million, the business community $6million and the remainder is owed by low density residents," he said.
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