New By-Law Spells Doom for Informal Sector

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By Stanley Kwenda WINDHOEK The recent move by the City of Windhoek to clamp down on unregistered companies operating within its environs might have an adverse effect on the operations of the informal business sector. The City of Windhoek last month embarked on an ambitious programme to bring sanity to the city’s fledgling business sector by registering all company premises. This latest move by city authorities spells doom to hundreds of informal sector operators who have for many years been operating without registration. The city authorities argue that the move is necessary because it will bring sanity to the city and ensure that businesses operate from areas designated within the local council’s by-laws. “All business people who do any kind of business, including people who buy and sell, are supposed to register with the city. For example, we have people who operate in open spaces, doctors, engineers and others who do business from their own backyards. For those who operate from residential areas, we would want to know if they are doing so with the permission of their neighbours and if they are also doing that within the town council’s scheme,” said a City of Windhoek official who requested anonymity. But the council’s latest move might be in direct conflict with the operations of the registrar of companies where most of the companies being targeted under the clampdown were officially registered as companies with full rights to set up shop. The official sought to dispel the misconception that might arise from that, saying there was nothing amiss with his organization’s registration of companies operating within its jurisdiction. He said, “The registrar of companies register the company names while we, as local authorities, register the premises. And that is exactly what we are going to be doing – sending our inspectors to the premises to check if they are correctly placed.” In the recent past, a lot of sole proprietors operating street shebeens and open meat markets have been mushrooming all over the city, posing serious health hazards to people. At some of the places there are no sanitary facilities, and the wave of such nomad-like businesses seems to be growing.