$1 goods flood Harare streets

HARARE - Zimbabweans have awakened to the real value of a $1 as they are pegging most of their merchandise at that price.

From jackets, trousers, dresses to packaged foods, the $1 price has been the easiest to trade in and even a plate of hot sadza or chips costs a dollar.

“Box rako remaKellogs doshto chete, hombe $2…sister tinotaurirana kana muine $1,50 nderenyu.” (A box of Kellogs cereal for only $1, the big one is $2 but we can negotiate my sister, if you have $1,50 it’s yours).

Such is the banter of the $1 merchandise vendors that have sprawled around Harare in their bid to make a living amid the harsh economic climate.

A lorry stacked high with breakfast cereals going for $1 each is common in the downtown parts of Harare.

When the Daily News on Sunday inquired about the authenticity and validity of the product, the cereal still had three months to its expiration date.

Further enquiry into why they are so cheap showed just how valuable people have since placed on $1.

The vendor who only identified himself as Tonde said, despite the low price he still makes a profit which is better than not getting anything at all.

“I may not be very happy with what I make but at least, I go home with something. If I had been sitting at home waiting for hand-outs who knows if I am lucky that day to even get $1?” Tonde implored.

He is one of many people around Harare who have since sought to sell their wares for $1 as jobs get fewer and availability of money gets tougher.

When Zimbabwe introduced the multi-currency system in 2009, people had thought that their worries were buried.

The United States dollar presented endless possibilities of a good life and easy access to many material things.

However, as time has gone by more and more people are realising that finding a $1 note on the streets is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

There are many commodities that one can buy using $1 but with the current economic hardships in the country, very few have access to the green back.

Strolling around Harare will make one appreciate the very little that they have and how far a dollar can be stretched to accommodate a family.

A visit to Mbare’s farmers market or kuvarimi will show just how desperate everyone is to get $1.

A crate of tomatoes can go for as little as five rand and a bundle of vegetables can also fetch for the same price.

Commodities that one can buy for $1 are endless when you visit kuvarimi. However, that is not the only place that values the green back.

Albert Chirima is among the many entrepreneurs that have emerged as the heavy industrial site slowly shuts down to a white elephant.

With his terminal benefits after being laid off, he bought a small white hatch-back which he uses as a delivery car for his baking business.

Chirima does not bake fancy pastry but sells buns early in the morning in the streets of Mbare.

“For $1 you can get 15 fresh hot buns and for five rand you get seven. If I do not do this then my family will starve and my children may end up leaving school so I had to make a plan,” Chirima said.

He is not the only one who has made $1 deals their way of life to eke a living in Harare.

Flea market spaces that have been opened up by the Harare City Council (HCC) are heavily stocked with second-hand clothes that also go for $1.

Evangeline Gumbo said she has to reduce the price on her clothes in order to get sales lest she loses out and makes a loss.

Gumbo said summer dresses that would usually cost $5 can be reduced to $1 when people complain that there is no money.

“Murikungowona kuti hakuna mari mazuvano saka stuff tinotongoiendesa ne$1 kana zvirinani ne$2. Ukagara nazvo hapana chawagona mufunge,” (As you can see there is no cash these days and clothes can fetch for $1 and on a good day for $2. If you over-price and remain with a huge stock you gain nothing),” she said.

Most of the people selling $1 merchandise are vendors and flea market owners who council advised to register in order for them to continue business.

As of September 22, 4 817 people had been registered to be allocated vending spaces by council.

According to HCC spokesperson Leslie Gwindi the rationale behind the registration exercise is to know the population of vendors in the city for planning purposes.

Flea market operators will be required to pay $3 daily for trading space while fruit, vegetable, airtime, dried foods and newspaper vendors pay $1.

Due to inconsistent sales, many people have opted to become mobile vendors in order to avoid the $1 per day vending fee.

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