Life of a vendor

BULAWAYO - Cleopas Makusha was relegated to the dusty streets in 2005, following the closure of The Daily Mirror where he worked as a cashier.

After losing his job, Makusha frantically tried to look for other employment in order to sustain his family, but unfortunately for him the economy was beginning to implode. Instead of companies recruiting, they were winding up business in the city, citing serious viability problems.

Faced with no option, Makusha joined hordes of enterprising street vendors earning a living by selling airtime. The vendors set up shop on almost every corner of the city streets.

Comfortable lives

Not only has unemployment paved the way for street vendors, it has also led to the booming of backyard businesses. This development of informal businesses is a step to an unknown destination for the country. But as ***The Zimbabwean found out this week, vendors lead quite comfortable lives.

"Since I left employment in 2005 I have been surviving by selling airtime in the streets. During the economic crisis before the introduction of the multi currency, I managed to secure food for my family and buy a couple of assets such as a television, refrigerator and a kitchen unit. I have also managed to pay my rent and monthly bills," said Makusha who sells airtime with his wife on the corner of 5th avenue and Main


Like most vendors, Makusha buys top up cards from airtime wholesalers who directly buy from Econet, Netone and Telecel.

"In airtime dealing, the more airtime you sell, the more profit you make. My wife works with me; we sell airtime and on busy days we can make a profit of $US70," he said.

Since the introduction of the multicurrency, Makusha said he and his wife had managed to build a four roomed house in Zvishavane, as well as buying four cows.

Another vendor, Richard Sabamba, started selling airtime in 2005.

Farming inputs

"I bought my first cars: a Hyundai Excel and a Toyota Corolla, in 2006. Things

became really hard for us during the economic crisis in 2008 when most of our savings were eroded by inflation," said Sabamba who sells airtime and newspapers on the corner of Jayson Mayo Street and 8th avenue.

Sabamba has also managed to buy farming inputs for his three and half hectares A2 farm which he was allocated by the government at Mary Lands farm in Darwondle under the land reform programme. Sabamba makes an average daily profit of $US25.

Economists say three quarters of economically active Zimbabweans are not gainfully employed in the country. Presenting the 2010 -2011 budget last year, Finance minister Tendai Biti admitted that top up cards bring in a significant amount to the country's fiscus. Zwanai Sithole

Tagged under: