Bulawayo residents have been jostling to buy foodstuffs from the market and few retail outlets that are partially ‘opened for business’ following the nationwide shutdown.
A few supermarkets in the city centre such as TM, OK, Greens only opened a small section of their shops under police guard and were letting in a few shoppers at a time.
Residents said they were forced out of their homes as they had run out of food supplies following the on-going stay away that has resulted in a shutdown of Bulawayo.
The stay-away was motivated by the recent fuel hikes and looming commodity price hikes, which sparked demonstrations from angry people.
Some residents who stay in residential suburbs said they walked into town in order to buy food, while those who had cars said they had parked them at their homes fearing they would be stoned.
“I walked by foot all the way from Magwegwe to buy food .There are no commuter omnibuses on the roads. I had no choice because my family needs to eat. I will return home on foot,” said one Richard Mlalazi.
Another shopper carrying 10kg mealie meal said he had queued at OK and bought it for $8.99.
The three day mass stay away has seen several people injured in running battles with anti-riot police, especially in the western areas where supermarkets such as Choppies have been totally looted and damaged.
A survey around the city centre Thursday showed that by mid-morning most shops and banks in the city were still closed and no sight of commuter omnibuses.
Small retailers selling meat and vegetable produce were the ones open for business.
The only notable food outlets which was opened was Bakers Inn along 8th Avenue as residents queued for bread which was sold for $1.50 up from $1.40.
Meanwhile vendors were selling a loaf of bread for $2 but later increased it to $3.
The 6th avenue vegetable market was also a hive of activity as residents scrambled to buy vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes and cabbages.
A vegetable vendor from Sizinda high density who refused to be named said she lost all her goods to looters during the protests.
“I came today to replace my stock which was looted on Tuesday. There is high demand of vegetables in the high density suburbs because a lot of people run out of supplies during the demonstrations,” she said.
Vegetable vendors who spoke to CITE boasted that business was brisk following the three day stay away.
“Business has been brisk since Tuesday .I have been selling vegetables to desperate people who stay in town and surrounding suburbs. Hotels have also been coming here buying vegetables,” said one vegetable vendor at the market.