As the economy bites, Vic Falls children turn to street vending

By Judith Sibanda 

Orphaned Buhle Dube (11) has resorted to selling grass brooms in the streets of Victoria Falls in order to fend for her young brother and grandmother following the death of her parents. 

The young girl who is a pupil at Jabulani Primary School in the rural outskirts of Victoria Falls started the business in June last year, following the death of her mother in February. 

She says she was given the capital to start her business by her uncle who resides in Chikandakubi in Jambezi to cater for basic needs in their day to day life. 

“I wake up at 7AM to sell the brooms in Chinotimba and Mkhosana, and at times in low density areas,” she narrated her route. 

“I live with my grandmother who is 77 years old and has walking problems and my five year old brother so my uncle said I’ll be the one to do daily routine of selling brooms for us to get income. 

“Following the death of my mother, we were told that we will not be going to school anymore so my grandmother decided to take us from our homestead to live with her in Victoria Falls at Mfelandawonye and that is when I started selling brooms and firewood.”

Buhle says the money has helped her family to buy food and her grandmother’s medication but the business is not as fast as one would anticipate. 

“I carry six brooms per day and very few people buy,” she says. 

“We order at high price and we sell them for US$ 35 cents, so the profit is not much as we sell two brooms from US$ 1 but people don’t buy much. On good days, l come back empty handed while on other days they buy one or two brooms but my grandmother insists that l should go and sell everyday.”

On the way, Buhle has made friends with other child vendors Donald and Emmanuel both 12 who sell second-hand clothes and earrings for women. 

The twins were forced into street vending after their mother who was employed in the tourism sector lost her job due to Covid-19 pandemic. 

Their single mother Letwin Shoko says she cannot do the street vending as she is nursing a newly born child. 

“I order for them second-hand clothes and other goods like earrings and face powders from Zambia for them to resale. 

“We have people that travel to Zambia on a daily basis and these are people that we give our orders… I worked as a general hand at some local hotel and following my employment loss l discovered that l was pregnant and being a single mother, l had no other choice but to let these children do the work for me.

“They get tired, and oftentimes lose their goods to thieves when they are selling, but l have no other choice as they require to be fed and we have no other stream of income.”

The department of Social Development says Matabeleland North province has an excess of over 50 000 households in need of a humanitarian bailout, but reaching out to them has been impeded by financial constraints economic in, the province officials say.

In the Hwange district, the department said it offers 395 vulnerable households cash transfers to cushion them during the Covid-19 period, but the number of people in need of assistance is higher. 

In the report, the department further noted that some vulnerable beneficiaries have not yet collected their sim cards to enable them to receive some cushioning funds due to the ongoing lockdown which made life more difficult for the vulnerable groups. 

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