CHITUNGWIZA – Zimbabwe’s decade-long economic meltdown has forced most people into all sorts of business to eke out a living. Even previously exclusive industries, such as brick moulding, have not been spared as Zimbabweans are increasingly exploring new avenues of employment.
Report by Vimbai Marufu Own Correspondent
In the dormitory town of Chitungwiza, located approximately 30km to the south of Harare, an ever-growing housing market has created a need for bricks. Brick moulding as a business has become an in-thing in the town where new housing stands are sprouting daily.
Just behind the Makoni shopping centre, men in overalls are seen going back and forth mixing cement and sand to make bricks. With a 90% unemployment rate in Zimbabwe, more and more people are looking for alternative ways to make a living.
A brick moulder Godwell Mabhodha (43) said he embarked on the brick moulding business 10 years ago and has been very successful.
However, not everything was rosy at the beginning. Mabhodha said he struggled at first and did not have equipment when he first embarked on the project. He said he had to hire the required equipment. He added that the introduction of the multi-currency regime at the end of 2008 negatively affected his business.
“I was greatly affected by the dollarisation process and had to start from zero again. At that time, I could not afford to purchase cement because it was very expensive,” he said.
Mabhodha said he persevered through the difficult economic circumstances because he strongly believed in brick moulding. The housing market in Chitungwiza started booming. Demand for bricks grew rapidly.
“I worked very hard during that period to get back on my feet, and thank God, things worked out for me. There are many people in the business now, you just have to travel around Chitungwiza to see it for yourself,” he said.
Mabhodha said he currently employs seven people. He initially supplied bricks around Chitungwiza, but has since expanded his horizons.
“I now supply materials not only in Chitungwiza, but as far as Beatrice, Hopley and Southly Farm, Waterfalls and Mabvuku,” said Mabhodha.
He said he now supplies bricks, pit and river sand, window sills, and constructs security walls and pavements. He has managed to buy a pick-up truck which he uses to transport building materials for his customers and sometimes hires it out to make extra income.
Mabhodha said that his business had drastically improved his life. He is now able to cater for the needs of his family.
“I make a profit of more than $600, and that is enough for my family. I am very happy that I chose to be in this field. I also have created employment for people who would otherwise have been out of employment as I speak,” he said.
Mabhodha said though he has been successful, there are new challenges besetting his business among them, of water and efficient machinery. He added that the Chitungwiza Town Council authorities continuously harassed him demanding bribes.
Another brick moulder Thomas Makwarimba (25) of Unit D in Chitungwiza said he embarked on the business after failing to secure employment.
“We are making a lot of money in this business. I am absolutely enjoying my life. There are a lot of young people in my area who are doing this for a living,” Makwarimba said.
He added that he produces an average of 5 000 bricks per week which gives him a profit of $400 weekly.