Hundreds of prospective job seekers descended on the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) main depot in Bulawayo looking for employment as conductors, a move which some said showed high levels of unemployment especially among the youth.
The Zupco depot along Khami Road was teeming with job hunters who had formed long queues inside the premises to drop off their documentation.
Zupco is in the process of increasing its fleet after the government banned commuter omnibuses and urged those that wanted to operate to register under the Zupco franchise.
Acting Zupco chief executive officer Evaristo Madangwa confirmed to CITE that the company was hiring more staff.
“Are you aware that Zupco is increasing its fleet, so we need conductors to assist in the operations. Most of the applicants are for conducting jobs,” he said in an interview.
The move by Zupco to increase its fleet of Kombis has not been received well, as critics feel the government is swallowing indigenous businesspeople in the name of maintaining order in light of COVID-19.
But to the unemployed youths, the move provides an opportunity for them to earn an income.
In an interview, some of the youths said the development points to the wider crisis that young people are faced with in Zimbabwe.
Kudzai Chabvukwa, a 22-year-old student at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) said he wanted to raise money for tuition.
“I study accounting but need something to do in the meanwhile while the varsity is closed, which is why I came here to apply for a job as a conductor. My father is the one who informed me about the vacancy. The requirement is to have five O’level subjects including mathematics, your identification card, birth certificate and copies of original certificates,” he said.
Chabvukwa said he arrived at 9 am and estimated that around that time about 500 people had come to apply as well.
“There were lot of people in the queue, and others continued joining over during the day,” Chabvukwa said.
Another prospective employee, Munyaradzi Mabunda, claimed he heard the salary was “ZWL$2 100.”
“I have been unemployed for a year and I need something to do while something better comes up,” he said.
Since the lockdown started in Zimbabwe – March 30, citizens including essential workers had to wait several hours waiting for a bus that effected reduced seating to maintain social distancing.
With Level 2 of the lockdown in place, public transport would be further strained, if Zupco fails to meet the demand of commuters.