Company Registration getting cumbersome in Zimbabwe

Angela Petro

The registration of new companies in Zimbabwe is getting quite strenuous characterized by serious delays which have also created speculations that the office might be under serge by corrupt syndicates.

The Deeds Office which falls under the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is currently still processing applications which dates back to November 2019, an unusual backlog for a process that should normally take three days.

One employee from the Company who preferred anonymity confirmed that indeed the office was not processing applications to register new companies within a reasonable timeframe and by the time of writing this article they were still processing applications from 2019.
The acting Chief Registrar, Mrs Nyagura also confirmed of this backlog but explained that it was due to some structural disturbances within the operation of the office.

”Yes we have a serious backlog and the delays started sometime before November 2019”, she said.

“The reasons are that, it is because there was a time we received too many applications last year after there had been rumors that we were going to increase our fees, and as a result we couldn’t process them within the required time frame.” Mrs Nyagura said.

She also highlighted that the delays were a result of the changes in the currency in Zimbabwe from United States dollar to RTGS which forced clients to redenominate their capital thereby affecting the turnaround period of the processes.

Although Mrs Nyagura also stated that the lockdown has added to the delays as a higher percentage of staff is not at work, a number of people who spoke to the writer disagreed with her but insisted that the delays are artificial as the office was only processing applications coming via “agents”.

The “agents” in question are either legal or illegal and are seen milling around the premises looking for clients. One of the agents who also happens to be an employee in the Deeds Office but preferred not to have her name published, confirmed that they have a relationship with the top officials at the office and they facilitate a quick processing that falls within 3 days yet the office is still sitting on 2019 entries.

“Yes we take the clients’ papers together with some money ranging from US$20 to above which is a “fee” for the favor and service apart from a normal required fee of ZWL $1080.”

The agent also added that the money is allotted along the chain of those responsible for the processing of company documents indicating that the fee can actually be a bribe as a client by the name Tinashe also confirmed that the process can take a very short space of time if one goes through these agents with a certain amount in $US.

“Your papers have to carry at least US$200 which you give to these agents so that the processing is done fast, without that you will take years to have the registration completed”, he said.

It seems like the challenge of processing these new company registrations is more pronounced in Zimbabwe within the region as the process in South Africa only takes 5 days and can be completed even online with or without agents.

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