Towards the end of August 2022, local businesses were issued with letters from Mafube Local Municipality (MLM), informing that “You are therefore required to register your business and apply for a business license apply for business license with Mafube Local Municipality before 1 December 2022.”
Mafube Business Forum (MBF), received several complaints from its members – apparently some were charged as much as R5 000.00 and when contacting the responsible official at MLM, were told not to worry, “you can deduct it from your tax”!
MBF dealt with the absurdity by approaching our legal team for their opinion and a recommended course of action. A letter was written to the Municipal Manager (MM) on 13 September 2022, to advise MLM that no business owner in Mafube is obligated to apply for, nor make payment for a business licence at this time, as there is no municipal bylaw promulgated by the Mafube Local Municipality. The MM was requested to acknowledge receipt of the letter within 48 hours and to issue a retraction notice in the media within 14 days. Needless to say, no acknowledgement was received and no retraction followed. Despite being properly informed, MLM continued to distribute the letter and harassing business owners for payment.
The letter issued to businesses incorrectly states that section 2 (1) (a) (b) and (c) “outlines the role of the local authority to license businesses.” Section 2 of the Businesses Act 71 of 1991 as amended by the Businesses Amendment Act 168 of 1993, refers to the powers of the Administrator* to designate a local authority, or appoint any person or body, as a licensing authority for a particular area. Unless MLM can convince us otherwise, we seriously doubt that MLM have been designated as such.
*Please note that the term “Administrator” in this context is redundant.
In our view MLM should rather refer to section 6A of the act which deals with the powers of a local authority to adopt by-laws for the regulation of business within its area of jurisdiction.
As the recognised voice of local commerce and industry, MBF are disappointed that we have not been consulted by MLM, before this unilateral course of action. It is our view that it is ill-conceived and will only serve to further alienate the business community. It is certainly not in the spirit of the agreement already reached.
For assistance, business owners, residents and ratepayers are invited to visit MBF at 18A Church Street, Frankfort. Alternatively, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or a WhatsApps to 079 145 4295. Vist or website at www.mafubebf.org