The local authority here has experienced a sharp increase in revenue collection following a blitz on unlicensed business operators.
Council records have shown that the blitz, which started last week, has increased the local authority’s revenue collection from about $3 000 a month to $16 000 a week.
Business people in this eastern border city are playing cat and mouse games with municipal police who are raiding their premises demanding shop and business licences.
The municipal police officers are patrolling the city in the company of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, demanding valid copies of their trading licences and fining those that do not have them.
The operation has affected mostly small business operators who are complaining council charges are too high. Council is demanding fees ranging from $200 to $500 per year.
Mavis Maruni, who operates a tailoring shop in the central business district, said the blitz had forced her to close shop because she could not afford the fees.
“I have been forced to close and was threatened with arrest if I opened without paying the licence fee,” said Maruni.
A private debt collector, Paul Nyabeza said: “I have operated from these offices for the past three years and they never asked for these business licences. I wonder where this is coming from.”
Other businesses that have been affected by the operation are Internet cafés, boutiques and people who rent small offices.
“I am now forced to work with my door locked and I don’t answer any knocks on my door,” said Menard Mavhima, who runs a small consultancy firm in the city.
On Tuesday council held a full council meeting where Mutare town clerk Obert Muzawazi said most people were previously not aware that they are supposed to pay shop or business licence fees to the council.
“The figures we are getting from people who are now coming to pay for their licences are skyrocketing. Even those who did not know that they are supposed to pay are coming to pay,” said Muzawazi.