Today in the Newsday appeared an article about how multi-licensing is chocking the tourism sector as it takes an unreasonably long time to renew and apply for about 30 licenses used in the sector. This problem cuts across all sectors of business affecting also SMEs who operate in different economic sectors. The licensing authorities are exclusively quasi-government and government bodies, which make one wonder why they cant get their house in order and have one license for a business to operate in its respective sector. Yesterday we wrote an article: Harare City Council improves ease of doing business; about how the local authority has been making strides to license businesses operating under one roof under one license; something which must be embraced by the government as one unit.
Who are the culprits?
Imagine, a typical small restaurant outlet has to pay ZBC radio and/or television license, Harare City Council Shop license and restaurant licence, ZTA operating license and Health Certifications at a very minimum. This currently means visiting four different offices dotted across the capital which is time consuming and eats into productivity. All parastatals mandated to issue operating and compliance licenses to various players such as such as the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA), Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), Environmental Management Authority (EMA) to mention a few and all urban local authorities must all come to one table and agree on a framework of how they can work together and have a one-stop-shop for handling payments and possibly the certifications in one place.
During the Zim ICT Fund breakfast meeting held in the capital a few weeks back; Hon Supa Mandiwanzira, the Minister for Information Technology said his ministry is working on converting all Post Offices into national identification and passport processing hubs. This initiative can further include the post offices becoming this one-stop-shop and handle payments and certifications renewal for all parastatal and government bodies. That way businesses don’t have to go the many respective government offices to pay their different licenses but rather just do it in one place, obtain receipts and the certificates can then be emailed for printing or delivered by post, simple!
The Problem: Corruption and Lack of Transparency
The reason why this noble idea will never see the light of day is simple and everyone knows it: corruption. The question which is asked by these different government bodies is: ‘saka tinozodya sei ipapa?’ (so how will we personally benefit from that?). This will lead to lack of co-operation from the different ministries and the ultimate failure of such an initiative. Earlier this year there were reports that ZimPost was being sued by POSB Bank for failing to remit $9 million from agency banking operations between the two. This is besides these two being wholly government owned entities and one would think that such an impasse would be easily resolved, but alas, the courts had to step in to resolve the dispute. Such precedence which the current government allow to build will add to discontent and the issue of corruption which is now wide-spread will see this idea being shelved until such reforms are put in place.