MANY Zimbabweans are turning to “real estate” business as hardships increase in the face of an economic decline that has seen thousands jobs lost in a short space of time.
With no sign that the two million jobs promised by Zanu PF in its 2013 election manifesto will ever come, jobless Zimbabweans are looking for all sorts of ways to survive.
Many unemployed Zimbabweans have turned to vending, selling all sorts of wares while some enterprising individuals have turned to the “real estate,” business, mostly without proper registration papers.
The “accommodation agents” business that has hit Harare does not come with many risks or losses like vending where vendors have been forced to play cat and mouse with municipal police who confiscate their merchandise and also arrest them.
The “agents” charge various amounts of fees to home seekers, ranging from $5 to $100.
They insist on payment first before home seekers can see the available houses.
Amos Gudyanga who runs a typing and printing business and an accommodation agency in the same office said low business had driven him into “real estate”
“It’s good business because the landlords call us and give us their houses to let out. We register home seekers for $30 before we show them the available accommodation. We are the middlemen between landlords and home seekers,” Abigail Muteyiwa said the new accommodation agents were ripping off customers as they did not incur any costs in conducting their business.
“We appreciate that they are providing a service, but some of their fees are out of this world.”
Tsungai Dembedza concurred and said the fees that some of the agents were charging were too high and at times they did not deliver.
“I paid $30 last month for a house to an agent, but all the houses he had did not meet my requirements,” she said.
A snap survey in Westlea showed that many of this kind of agents were making a killing just by showing home seekers potential accommodation.
Merjury Takarwa an agent said many people were opting for this line of business as it was easy.
“We charge $20 per room that we would have shown a tenant, but for a full house, we charge $100,” Takarwa said.
A recent report by the Poverty Reduction Forum Trust noted that many people were now opting for informal trade.
Independent economists say unemployment is above 90%.
However, government’s statistical agency says unemployment is at 11%.