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Getting a passport, national identity card or registering a company in Zimbabwe – is the stuff of nightmares for anyone. Longs queues, underpaid civil servants who clearly have no desire to serve you, and the confusion of the entire process will test the most patient of us.
The current process of registering a company in Zimbabwe goes as follows:
- You submit a name search via the online platform http://www.dcip.gov.zw/ and pay via Eco Cash.
- Then, you jot down a reference number and make what is to be your first of several trips to the Registrar of Companies’ office. Once you get there, you give that number to a civil servant.
- You then go back a few days later to check if the name search is complete and get your CV4 form.
The next steps depend on the type of company you wish to register, but if you decide to be cheap like me (I decided not to pay someone else US$100 and did this all my own for a cost of less than US$20 and 2 weeks) will have you going to the government offices several times every day for 2 weeks because you missed something else. All in all, you will have interacted with more than 5 human beings, each one treating you like a minor annoyance, forgetting that you are paying them to be there.
In an ideal world, the steps to register a company would be:
- Perform a name search;
- Register the company;
- Pay electronically all from your computer;
- After a couple of days, you can go and collect a physical copy of your certificate of incorporation.
All this would take considerably less time and also needs fewer than 2 civil servants. The government saves money and I do not feel the need to scream at underpaid government employees. You will be spared the need to make back and forth trips, if your electronic form is incomplete, the system will not accept it.
The ZIMRA way
Zimra is trying to do something similar with their e-filling platform. It would be commendable but given the fact that they spend more of their money on cars instead of getting the system polished up and able to handle the high traffic it gets; they get 2 stars out of five. When you face challenges with the Zimra system, you are told to go home, sleep and then wake up at 3 am to try again!
The lingering question though, is if Zimra can get an e-service, why are we not applying for passports, national ID cards and completing company registration online? It cannot be a question of the public having access to computers. If that was a problem, then the updated school curriculum would not have included computers and e-learning for all schools. Right?
The Vehicle Inspection Department has also started using computers for its theory driving tests and students enrol for school using the infamous e-Map platform.
The previously mentioned Department of Deeds and Intellectual Property web platform already has the features that allow completing a name search and registering a company online. For some reason known to no one and sure to not be accepted by anyone, the entire system is not being used. Why then, go through the steps of developing the platform, launching it and giving the public access if it is not to be used by anyone?
Van Lee Chigwada is a software developer at Age-X. You can find him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/agexdev