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Ordinary Zimbabweans reduced to living on less than $1 a day




AS THE country’s economy continues to sink deeper, ordinary people in high-density suburbs have turned to chicken offal for relish and trading these has become brisk business.

A recent visit to Secondary Overspill in Epworth showed that a family of six people survives on less than a dollar a day, far below Zimbabwe’s estimated poverty datum line of $495 a month.

While the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) says an average person in Zimbabwe will be living on $1,01 per day by August 2016, Epworth families are already surviving on less than a dollar a day. Here, the majority of people have turned to chicken heads for meat and these sell at $0,05 each, meaning a family of six can spent only $0,30 per day on relish.

The assortment of cheap relish includes chicken feet, skins and casings, and pork heads — neatly deboned with expert dexterity. As poverty takes its toll in high-density areas, the majority of families cannot afford beyond a single meal per day.





The origins of the chicken delicacies is not clear but those who are into this business told the WeekendPost that they source the meat from one of the country’s leading chicken breeders in the capital where between 300 and 1 000 chickens are lost daily due to a number of factors such as heat stroke. Other smaller chicken farmers across the Manyame River near St Mary’s, Chitungwiza are another source.

Chicken carcasses are “smuggled” from poultry farmers and find their way straight onto the black market where they sell fast. Consumers “prefer” the black market due to its affordability as compared to conventional butcheries. Though, ideally the carcasses should be incinerated on the farm, this is a less popular option since it is more costly.

“Some of the chickens die in their runs (coops) while others die on their way to slaughter rooms. But here we do not sell dead chickens to the public but only to those we have contracts with such as crocodile farmers,” said an official from one of the poultry farms in Harare.

Apart from consuming meat sold at black markets, the majority of people in ghettoes like St Mary’s, especially around Chigovanyika and Huruyadzo shopping centres, in Chitungwiza, Hopley, Dzivaresekwa, Kambuzuma and Mufakose in Harare, Chipadze in Bindura, Sakubva in Mutare, Mambo in Gweru, Gaza in Chipinge among others are now in the business of buying and repackaging items (basic goods into small quantities (zvitsaona) for resale.

Though the majority of vendors operating at the bustling shopping centres are aware of the dangers and legal implications associated with repackaging and reselling manufacturer’s goods without a reseller’s agreement but they cannot relinquish the trade as prevailing economic situation in Zimbabwe does not allow them to do so.

With an unemployment rate of about 90 percent, most of the individuals have been left with no option but turn to vending. Martin Dhliwayo, who operates at Kuwadzana 4 Shopping Centre in the capital as a vendor, said he buys a 10kg packet of maize-meal for $6 to $8 and repackages it into small packets and realises a dollar as profit.

“I am not worried about the number of plates that are equal to a 10kg of maize-meal, all I know is that after re-packaging and reselling it I will make a dollar as my profit.

“Here, I usually sell 10kg of maize-meal per day and if the business is not good, it will not go beyond two days,” he said.

In Harare, the price of a standard plate of maize-meal ranges between $0,40 and $0,50, depending on the consumer’s negotiating skills. Dhliwayo said the most profitable commodity that keeps most of the vendors in business is cooking oil.

“On good days, I sell 30 litres (of cooking oil) a day while I usually push 12 litres on bad ones with a small bottle going for only $0,50,” he said. —Vasco Chaya

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