Meet Zimbabwe’s most decorated vendor

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To strangers he is judged to be a mentally deranged man, but to those who know him, he is just a mobile vendor.

BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA

He is sane and undoubtedly Zimbabwe’s most decorated vendor. With all sorts of sewing apparatus hanging from his body, while his bicycle is heavily pampered with the various wares, the 42-year-old vendor slowly pushes his “wheeled tuckshop” along the streets, with buyers plucking off different types of goods off from his body.

Clever Marumbwa, is the man who has taken Marondera by storm through his vending antics that have left many wondering.

According to him, people’s perceptions are not a hindering factor to his business as he has to devise a way of marketing himself.

“I am not insane, I am a vendor. This is how I do my things,” Marumbwa said.

He told NewsDay that vending was only a supplementary move since he was employed elsewhere.

“I am a full-time guard employed by a local security company. I work four days per week and the other three are off days. So when off duty, I do vending to supplement my income,” he said.

Asked how he manages to move around town with such a heavy load on both the bicycle and himself, Marumbwa said he had been operating like that for the past 10 years and that he was used to his trade.

Marumbwa 1

The bicycle’s is estimated to carry a load of about 60kg, while he hangs goods weighing an average of 15kg on his body.

“It is not heavy. I have been vending since I was in Grade Six at Zhombwe Primary School in Murewa,” he said.

“My uncle would give me sweets to sell at school. After completing secondary education, I came to Marondera where I studied Cutting and Designing.

“However, I did not get employed for long because it was during those days when mazitye (second-hand clothes) flooded the market. Clothing factories were closed so I went into vending.

“I owned a tuck shop, but could not hold on to it for long as it was destroyed during the Murambatsvina era. This is how I became a mobile vendor. I have been selling my wares like this for the past 10 years and it is working.”

With his body and bicycle carrying wares that can fill a whole tuckshop, one is forced to ask how Marumbwa disposes of the goods.

“A few years ago, I used to go to Harare twice a month to order goods, but these days business is low,” he said.

“I get my wares from Mbare, Harare, and because they are small things, I cannot say how much I sell per day. What I know is that people are quite aware of my business and each time I pass through the residential areas, my customers will be waiting.

“People know that I move around with everything. So I have ready deliveries.”

Love or hate him, Marumbwa is in a class of his own. In this current economic meltdown, only the innovative survive. With the influx of vendors in Marondera, it now needs those who take the bull by its horns to put food on the table.

“I have a wife and three children. My first born is now 19 years old while the last born is three,” Marumbwa said.

“They all need to be taken care of. The eldest child will soon be going to university. Vending is in my blood and will not retire soon.”

The things that hang from Marumbwa’s body and bicycle are catapults, necklaces, rings, combs and hangers, among many others.