A SHOPPING centre in Harare’s upmarket Mandara low-density suburb epitomises two decades of Zimbabwe’s unrelenting economic meltdown.
The shopping centre, named after the suburb, is now a paradise of a mixed bag of vendors selling all sorts of paraphernalia from vegetables to old shoes.
For Mandara residents, the shopping centre is now an eyesore with the potential to devalue their expensive suburban properties.
The residents, who have haplessly watched the country’s economy cave in, are now being forced to drive long distances to other shopping centres such as Kamfinsa or Chisipite.
Most of the residents are incensed that vendors are allowed to operate at the abandoned shopping centre, where there are no ablution facilities, but for the vendors, the place is godsend.
“You see the state of our services here, no proper structure, even healthwise, everything is not good. We do not have toilets here, or water. The council borehole was closed by the owner of the property,” one of the vendors told NewsDay.
“You see we are here to provide for our community and for our families, to us it’s a blessing in disguise because that’s where we make our money and we are not competing with a bigger market.”
The once shopping complex is slowly crumbling and mother nature is taking its toll.
One resident could only wish and mourn for a better future.
“We wish that we have our own shopping centre which will provide for us, than us going as far as Kamfinsa, for we do not have any pharmacies here because misika (street markets) don’t provide that,” the resident said.
Mandara ward 9 councillor Stewart Mutizwa said there was nothing much to say since the shops were privately owned.
“Mandara shops are privately owned by a certain Indian guy, who is currently out of the country. The guy is not willing to lease the property because he wants to operate it himself,” he said.
“I don’t know why he is not opening it, maybe it’s resources or something else, but what I know is he almost lost his property after previously leasing it to someone.”
In the meantime, to a passer-by, Mandara is a perfect embodiment of a failed investment in a tanking economy.