Vending for survival in Vic- Falls

Lingani Nyika, Chronicle Reporter
A MAJORITY of Victoria Falls residents have pinned hopes on vending for survival as the tourism industry which used to be their main source of livelihood remains closed.

Tourism was hardest hit by the global pandemic and more than three quarters of workers lost jobs. About 90 percent of Victoria Falls population was employed in the tourism industry or relied on the sector for survival. Government also recently rolled out mass vaccination of all eligible residents in the tourism city to achieve herd immunity and lure back travelers after noticing the importance the industry to people’s livelihoods.

When Covid-19 hit and the country went into successive lockdowns, many resorted to horticulture and gardening while others relocated to rural areas. Since February, the city had been flooded by people selling fresh produce from their fields. While the industry has reopened, many still struggle to eke a living because of lack of tourists. More and more residents have turned into vending specializing in fresh farm produce which they get from surrounding villages such as Matetsi, Breakfast, Woodlands and Masue resettlement areas.

Farmers from there used to travel to Victoria Falls to sell their stuff but now residents intercept them and buy in bulk for resell while other travel to the resettlement areas to stock up. A news crew visited some market places such as Comesa Market popularly known as Emaplankeni in the industrial area and Old Market in Chinotimba where scores of people were displaying pumpkins, sweet reeds, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, roundnuts, cucumbers and green mealies for sell.

Ms Olita Mudenda from Masue said she takes two 50kg bags of green mealies to Victoria Falls every day as she has ready customers. “I used to come and spend the whole day selling my goods and sometimes move around houses but lately as soon as we arrive there are people ready to buy everything,” she said.

Some farmers from Matetsi who spoke on condition of anonymity said they have been recording brisk business from Victoria Falls vendors.

“We bring pumpkins and sell to vendors unlike before when we would camp here to sell our staff. Sometimes we would go back without selling anything hence we would suffer losses but these days we are assured of profit.

“I have been selling since February and have managed to pay school fees for my two children and also provide for my family,” said one of the farmers. A pumpkin is sold for US$1 while half a dozen of green mealies also costs US$1, sweet reeds are between $10 and $20 each and a packet of sweet potatoes is also US$1.

Victoria Falls Combined Resident Association Mr Kelvin Moyo said vending had become a source of living for residents. “People were disturbed by Covid-19 and many have resorted to vending. It is quite well if residents engage is such non-criminal activities to take care of their families,” said Mr Moyo.-@NyikaLingani

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