BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
GOVERNMENT will soon pounce on unregistered shops in downtown Harare, which it blames for fuelling the parallel market for foreign currency and other illegal activities, Industry and Commerce Minister, Mangaliso Ndlovu, has said.
The shops known as “matuckshop” are popular with locals for selling products at lower prices than registered formal shops, but authorities say they are at the heart of a thriving black market for currency and trade of goods smuggled into the country.
Ndlovu, said he would ensure that shop owners have proof of payment of taxes, proof of banking records and compliance to tax regulations.
“The shops down town are not formally registered. We will have a programme on reserve sector compliance. Everyone in the reserve sector has to be registered and have an ethical conduct. We want to ensure that everyone is compliant. We will gradually clean up down town,” Ndlovu said, in a phone interview with NewsDay.
Local passenger transportation, taxis and car hire services, retail and wholesale trade, barber shops, hairdressing and beauty salons are reserved for locals, in line with the indigenisation laws.
“Downtown shops are accepting cash only and their prices are lower. What happens is that they buy forex with that cash and trade it. The margins they get from there are a bit higher than they get from selling their goods with plastic money.”
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) Denford Mutashu said the shops in downtown were fuelling the parallel market illicit deals.
“The CZR and government, led by the Minister of Industry and Commerce Mangaliso Ndlovu, toured retail and wholesale shops both in formal and informal trade.
The tour opened a can of worms as most traders at the so called ‘tuckshops’ area are flouting the law at will. They engage in illicit activities like selling cash, fuelling the forex parallel market, selling smuggled goods, demanding cash payments only with no other payment options like swipe or mobile money,” Mutashu said.
“Most of the shops should be closed and should only reopen on condition that one produces clear ownership and registration details, proof of payment of taxes for the duration they have been operating, proof of banking records, Pay As You Earn records and records of product sources. All law enforcement agencies, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the police should urgently conduct an operation to root out the shenanigans taking place there.”