A 35-day lockdown which was effected by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to slow down the spreading of the COVID 19 pandemic in Zimbabwe has turned the majority of the high-density suburb dwellers of Harare into vendors as means for survival.
A snap survey we conducted today in the four high-density suburbs of Harare namely Warren Park D, Budiriro, Glenview, and Glenorah reveals that people are going to Mbare Musika to purchase perishables like Vegetables, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Onions and other commodities from farmers at cheaper prices for resale.
Tuckshop owners have also joined vending to clear their stocks as they were ordered to close down by the government. This has seen some vending stalls having products like fresh milk, bread, Lacto, and other commodities that are expected to be seen in proper shops.
To avoid confrontation with security forces, people are erecting vending stalls (Musika) at their homes, while some are using pushcarts, bicycles, and motor vehicles for the door to door deliveries. One of the vendors who spoke to this publication said the opening of Mbare Musika has given him a lifeline as he can now fend for his family through vending.
“The opening of Mbare Musika came as a relief because now I can go to Mbare, buy vegetables and tomatoes and bring them here for re-sale. Lockdown affected me a lot because I depended on informal trading for survival. At least now I can get something out of this to feed my family” said Tanaka in Waren Park D.
Another vendor who could be identified as Misheck in Glenview said he is now using his motor vehicle to deliver vegetables in order to generate income for his family.
“When the lockdown was announced, I did not have any savings with me. I had to improvise and use my vehicle to sell vegetables so that I can put food on the table for my family” he said.
When asked how he was accessing Mbare since most roadblocks are manned by security forces that are turning people away for unnecessary traveling, Tendai from Glenorah said there are vehicles that are transporting people to and from Mbare between 4 am to 5:30 am to avoid being caught by the police.
“It’s easy, we have commuter omnibuses and private cars that are ferrying people to and from Mbare between 4 am to 5:30 am. There will be no security forces at roadblocks during that time so there will be easy movement” said Tendai.
The lockdown has hit hard on the majority of urban residents that were depending on informal trading to sustain their livelihoods. The government has announced that it will be giving money to the affected poor and has set aside $100 million to cover one million poor families.