HomeAnalysisMbare dominance cannot go unchallenged

Mbare dominance cannot go unchallenged

Kudakwashe Gwabanayi Journalist
AT the break of dawn every day, an estimated US$50 000 cash changes hands in one of Zimbabwe’s oldest suburb — Mbare. This is according to Charles Dhewa, the chief executive officer of Knowledge Transfer Africa (Pvt) Ltd), an organisation that gathers and processes data in market intelligence that is key in decision making and policy development in agriculture.

The organisation is based at Mbare Musika, a massive vegetables market. Unfortunately, some farmers have lost their comfort in the area because they are not getting value for money.

In most cases farmers are left with no choice but to sell their wares at ridiculously low prices. It is imperative that farmers look for an optional market to sell their wares because other businesses are eating into the vegetable stalls spaces.

Bus operators have always been prominent figures around Mbare. Police officers around the bus terminus have being little to protect vulnerable farmers at Mbare Musika.

Every morning at Mbare Bus Terminus several bus operator ply various routes, for example, CAG has over 25 buses going to Honde Valley, Kariba, Muzarabani and other routes. Inter Africa unleashes 18 buses to Chiredzi and 10 more to Bulawayo. On the Harare-Mutare highway Trip Transport and Tenda Buses scramble for passengers while other small fish in the pond also compete.

This is just one of the most money-making expeditions in Mbare.

So important are public transport operators that public toilets are built or refurbished. Nothing is being done around the vegetables market to cater for farmers.

There are also truck transporters who bring vegetables and fruits like bananas from Honde Valley, potatoes from Mvurwi and tomatoes from Mutoko.

These truckers have also found lucrative business in other spheres of Mbare.

A lot of hardware stores have sprouted around Mbare. They are selling almost everything including; cement, window frames, IBR sheets, asbestos, crossbeams, tiles and window glasses and adhesives.

This business has grown as those travelling from out of Harare may want the convenience of buying hardware at a close proximity and loading them on the rural buses.

Merchandisers and wholesalers have decided to bring their products to Mbare and have made it easier for the customers.

Hardware business is lucrative and this has seen some farmers diversifying into building materials.

Steel makers
These have become the real cash movers around Mbare.

They have promoted themselves from being sellers to manufacturing a number of steel products.

While they were originally domiciled around the Siya So area, they have taken up spaces in Mbare.

Some of them have invaded spaces that used to be reserved for vegetable stalls.

Drugs and politics
Unconfirmed reports suggest that Mbare is the home to most drug lords particularly in the Matapi area.

It is difficult to trace them due to high population density. Some are even said to have turned to politics as a way of seeking protection from prosecution.

It is against this background that many things in Mbare have been politicised, even selling of vegetables.

Vegetable stalls are rented on political grounds.

Those that are selling vegetables have become political conduits and on political days the market is closed and they have to attend political gatherings.

A drive towards Mbare Musika will reveal that some vegetables sellers have moved out of the market for various reasons.

Vendors prefer to have a cat and mouse chase with local authorities than being in the market.

They are selling their wares around the Rufaro Stadium area.

Potato vendors have moved out of the market because of the dwindling space for agriculture activities.

There is a need for a new vegetables market place so that farmers do not have to be bungled with many other activities that are going on in Mbare.

The current situation where prices are determined at the market on the day of sell is not healthy for farmers.

The Aspindale Vegetable market had started off as a better option for farmers to offload their wares but unfortunately it did not attract as much customers.

Very little was done to advertise the market.

If farmers want a secluded place, where their voice is heard and where they have rights and have their own rules and regulations, the Aspindale Vegetables market is the first place to look at.

Those that sell agriculture equipment must ensure that farmers are also able to get everything there like irrigation systems, ploughs, fertilisers and chemicals among others.

The situation at Mbare Musika is slowly annihilating the farming community. Farmers are being treated as second class citizens at Mbare Musika, a place that is supposed to be their home.

If there are other open areas that farmers can be placed, it is better that they are moved because the current set up is toxic.

Farmers are slowly shunning Mbare for optional markets.

The good thing about Mbare is that it is a cash market.

Farmers are forced to sell their produce because of the micro-economic forces existing in Mbare.

  • Gwabanayi is a practising journalist and a farmer in his own right. — 0772 865 703 or gwabanayi@gmail.com

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