Victor Maphosa Herald Correspondent
Conmen are latching onto retailers by pretending to be officials of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) who can produce exemption letters to operate during the lockdown while other conmen are targeting foreigners unaware that all visas are extended for the period of the lockdown.
In a statement, CZR president Mr Denford Mutashu said the letters of exemption are only issued by CZR through the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
“It has come to our attention that there are unscrupulous elements purporting to be officials of CZR who have been duping retail players by promising to facilitate exemption letters on behalf of the confederation,” he said.
“CZR wishes to inform retailers and wholesalers that letters of exemption to operate during the 21-day-lockdown pronounced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa are only issued by CZR through the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.”
Mr Mutashu said retailers and wholesalers can be exempted if they offer essential services, have a valid trading licence, are cleared by the local police station, and will abide by the gazetted operation hours.
“Retailers should also get a letter from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Commerce and also from CZR,” he said.
“It is critical that retailers be wary of bogus CZR officers and to note that for one to become a member of CZR should visit our offices.”
He encouraged all exempted retailers and wholesalers to immediately stock masks and sanitary gloves which can be procured easily from local suppliers saying this will improve easy access to the general public since there are limited selling points across the country.
The CZR statement came barely a week after the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage issued a warning that other conmen were purporting to be Department of Immigration officials responsible for renewing expired permits.
Foreigners whose immigration permits and visas expired during the 21-day national lockdown are allowed to stay and must be wary of bogus immigration officers soliciting for bribes.
In a statement, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage said Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020, the regulations that lay down the legal requirements in the lockdown, automatically allows all foreigners to stay in the country despite expiry of their permits or visas.
Government denied authorising any individuals or entities to renew such documents during the lockdown.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage said the net effect of Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020 (Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order, 2020 was that it automatically renewed the immigration status of all foreign nationals whose status became invalid consequent to the lockdown, that is, diplomatic status, time restricted residence permits, temporary employment permits, scholars’ permits, students’ permits, temporary permits, visas and visitor’s entry certificates.