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Private Health Clinics Clash with Council

Medical services providers are being asked to pay annual licence fees ranging between US$1 000 to US$2 000, depending on their location

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Private Health Clinics Clash with Council

PRIVATE health institutions in Rusape were this week up in arms with the local authority, querying why its punitive permit fees were pegged without consulting them.

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They accused Rusape Town Council of charging them intolerable and unjustified operating licence fees, especially at the beginning of the year when their cashflows are low.

The medical personnel argued that such moves are detrimental to efforts to achieve universal health coverage.

The Manica Post understands that private ultra-sonographers, surgeries, laboratories and physiotherapists, among others, are being asked to pay annual licence fees ranging between US$1 000 to US$2 000, depending on their location.

The Rusape Town Council has even conducted a blitz to close shops of operators who are yet to pay their 2024 licence tariffs, including medical personnel.

Through their lawyer, Mr Tendai Bvuma of Bvuma and Associates, the doctors on Wednesday wrote to Rusape town secretary, Mr Solomon Gabaza, arguing that the local authority should not disturb them as long as they pay their monthly rates.

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Private Health Clinics Clash with Council

The medical practitioners are aggrieved that you settled their yearly trading licences without consulting them, and this resulted in you charging very exorbitant licence fees in this business environment.

As their legal practitioners, we noted and determined that these practitioners are not supposed to be paying any licence fees to your good office at all because there is no known law that enjoins you to charge these licences as you had been doing over the many past years,” wrote Mr Bvuma.

Your licensing is enabled by the Shop Licences Act (Chapter 14:17), which is very clear that it controls certain trades and businesses carried out in shops.

“Goods are defined as wares, merchandise, produce and generally, corporeal moveable things of any description. These are things that you can touch with your hands. Services cannot be touched. They are intangible.

“It is very clear from the Act that service providers cannot pay licences to council in order for them to operate in any local area. In its entire length and breadth, the Act does not have the slightest hint that service providers can be licenced by your good offices,” reads the letter, adding that council should cease demanding such fees from the doctors going forward.

Mr Gabaza was not available to comment as his mobile number went unanswered.

However, Rusape Town Council chairman, Councillor Lovemore Chifomboti said a proper response to Mr Bvuma’s letter will come from their lawyers – Absolom Law Chambers.


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