Harare Council, Zanu (PF) Clash Over Foreigners Shop Licenses

Masunda wrote a scathing letter to Zanu (PF)’s Harare province and the Mbare Residents and Ratepayers Association (MRRA) after their threats to force out mostly Chinese and Nigerians who now dominate the city’s small to medium enterprises.

Jaison Pasadi, the Zanu (PF) provincial chairman and MRRA spokesperson Elizabeth Bwanya who also leads the Mbare Chimurenga Choir told council that shop licenses must be reserved for locals.

But Masunda has shot back in a letter seen by Radio VOP saying: “there is no law that entitled anyone to get rid of foreigners operating in the city centre and replace them with supporters of any political party or interest group.

“There is no provision in the Urban Councils Act for the city council to ‘override the by-laws’ in order to empower the people.

“The city council is the designated local authority with the responsibility to run the city in the interest of all its stakeholders.”

The mayor’s letter came amid reports that some youths believed to be Zanu (PF) supporters were going around the city demanding “protection fees” from foreign business people.

The extortionists are allegedly demanding up to US$20 000 per individual shop owner.

Masunda said businesspeople must be careful as council was the only body permitted to collect license fees.

Zanu (PF) is currently pushing its controversial indigenisation programme that seeks to “empower locals” by making sure that they take control of foreign owned companies.

The policy has been condemned by a cross section of society as harmful to the economy, which is still battling to recover from a decade of decline.

Masunda said his council was determined to restore the rule of law in Harare and allow businesses to flourish.

He said even President Robert Mugabe cannot interfere in the day to day affairs of the council.