The Medical and Dental Private Practitioners of Zimbabwe Association (MDPPZA) has accused local authorities of profiteering by charging exorbitant fees to medical practitioners.

Speaking to NewsDay, MDPPZA president Johannes Marisa expressed concern over the fees medical practitioners are being charged by local authorities saying the amounts are extortionate

“We do not even understand why in the first place medical practitioners, surgeries or clinics are required to buy shop licences yet they are providing a service. Shops, according to their own legal instruments, are defined as businesses that deal with buying and selling of goods,” Marisa said.

“And if service is now classified under commodities or goods, then we have to go back to economics. So we are not happy. A lot of people (practitioners) are harassed, left right and centre by council inspectors who demand licence fees from important service providers, who are actually augmenting government efforts in order to bring help to everyone,” he said.

Marisa added that there was a need for collaboration between the council and the doctors so as to map the way forward.

“We are not achieving anything if there is no collaboration, what we need in the sector is collaboration and the need to work harmoniously with all linked stakeholders, the scientists, ultrasonographers, and so forth,” he said.

“This is why it is a challenge to engage all councils so that they give us an explanation as to why the service providers are required to pay shop licence fees and which law is being used,” he said.

Kennias Shonhayi, a lawyer representing the medical practitioners on the issue, said he was engaging the city council over the matter.

“We have discovered two things, that some city councils, for example, Bulawayo have no such charges, and those cities and towns like Harare, Ruwa, Kadoma and Norton do charge what they call medical certificates,” he said.

“What is surprising is that there is no law which is cited on the said certificate. They simply say in terms of the regulations, so I was instructed to write to the city of Harare to request an urgent meeting so as to seek clarity on the issue unfortunately they haven’t responded. We believe the charge is arbitrary, unjustified and illegal.”

The charges for the certificate vary from town to town and costs an average US$500 per month upon renewal.