Business as usual on Christmas Day as traders sing the blues

IT was business as usual in Harare on Monday as the country celebrated the world’s most popular holiday, Christmas.

IT was business as usual in Harare on Monday as the country celebrated the world’s most popular holiday, Christmas.

Over the years, people would travel to their rural homes to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones after spending the whole year working hard to make money for memorable festivities.

However, a snap survey carried out by NewsDay Business revealed that most businesses in Harare’s central business district (CBD) were open while taxis and commuter omnibuses were plying city routes.

In an interview a vendor for second-hand clothes near the Copacabana bus terminus in the CBD, Maria Masemura, said during previous Christmas seasons, she would go to her village to help her parents in the fields.

But this Christmas, she decided to stay in the city to sell second-hand clothes to make money to buy basic commodities for her parents as there was not enough rain for her family to farm this year.

“Usually, I would have left around the 20th of December to go to the village to help my parents on the farm. At my parents’ farm we grow maize, groundnuts, and sunflowers but this year the rains have forsaken us,” Masemura said.

“For me now, it is better to stay here and try to sell these clothes and save the money to make sure that when that time comes when food is no longer available, I will just cross the border to Mozambique and buy my parents some basic commodities. It is cheaper that side than here.”

She added that 2023 was hard on her as an informal trader as Harare City Council was always up in arms with her for selling on the streets in the CBD.

“This year was not one of the best years for me as I have lost most of my stuff to the city council. I have been arrested several times for selling without a trading licence and selling in undesignated places,” Masemura said.

“I have tried to find a proper place to sell my clothes, but it is very expensive to go through the proper channel. I would rather continue with this cat-and-mouse game with the authorities, at least when they are not after us, we make a lot of money.”

In another interview, a salesman in a grocery shop in the CBD’s downtown, Gregory Mutendwa said his boss had asked everyone to be at work.

He added that they had recorded the most sales for the month on Christmas Day.

“For us, it is business as usual. Our boss asked everyone to come to work and at least we are getting a commission for working on a holiday like this. We are employees so our bosses said we should open, and we are simply following instructions. We are open for business and have been recording sales since morning. I think we have recorded the most sales for the month today,” Mutendwa said.

“Back then, holidays used to be celebrated by visiting rural areas, but things have changed due to the rising cost of living. Traveling with the bus fares having doubled I should stay at work. The good thing is that I am getting something out of it.”

Tapiwa Maphosa, a taxi operator in Harare’s CBD, told NewsDay Business that business was good this December.

He said he was grateful to God that he had been able to provide for his family through his transport services.

“Today many people are travelling from point A to point B. People are having fun and for me, this is my chance to make money,” Maphosa said.

“Business has been good today, and I am glad and grateful to God that I will be able to buy whatever my family wants and pay school fees for my children. In general, December is always the best month for me.”

The push for more sales during the most popular holiday of the year comes amid rising cost of living attributed to the sharp depreciation of the local currency.

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