Fuel price hikes, shutdown have killed our small businesses; women

By Lungile Moyo

Following the violence and looting that characterised the shutdown called by activists around Zimbabwe to protest fuel price hikes about two weeks ago; some business women, traders and entrepreneurs have lamented that despite a guarantee that the protest would be peaceful, it turned out to be a twist of fate to them as they lost a lot of property and business.

The demonstrations which led to outrage, anger and violence, looting of shops and destruction of property by members of the public happened after the announcement of fuel increases by President E.D Mnangagwa on 12 January 2019. 

Amakhosikazi Media spoke to some business women, female entrepreneurs and traders on how the shut down and fuel increase had affected them and their businesses and finances. The women gave accounts of how their goods were stolen while some could not travel across the border to order their usual supplies. Some related that they ran a loss in their business with the see saw in forex exchange rates and the inability to trade for a whole week.

Thando Mpofu an entrepreneur from Bulawayo's Nketa suburb, who survives from supplying Avon brand of products said she ran a loss during the protests as she could not collect the package of orders for her customers because there was no means of transportation and communication due to the internet shutdown. She also lamented that one of her packages got lost forcing her to pay all clients who had put a down payment for orders from her personal funds.

A woman from Pumula township who preferred to only be known as Katty said she lost eight pure breed Germany shepherd puppies which she breeds for selling. She said that she was making money through them as she was selling them for one hundred and seventy dollars ($170) each.

Delight Tshuma who is part of Longrich network marketing business said she rents a shop in Bulawayo Central Business District where she keeps and sell her Longrich products and last week’s events affected her as her products which cost a lot of money were stolen.

Lihle Mathe a woman from Magwegwe West who said she is into cross border trading said last week’s demonstrations, and fuel hikes affected her as she had to sit at home for the whole week without traveling to order her goods.

“The shutdown really affected my business, the problem is that when there is no means of transport or communication the business eventually dies, at the end of the day women are the ones who suffer the most, kids don’t go to school, and our businesses are put to a standstill as most women are running this cross border trading business”, said Mathe.

Some complained that the goods that they had to sell were bought using loans which will be difficult to pay back on time due to the financial loses experienced over the last few weeks owing to the above mentioned mix of factors. 

While some alleged looters have been caught and sentenced to jail terms as high as 7years, many women work from shared modest premises in order to cut on costs. This means those who have space in the CBD may not afford security cameras to help them identify any theft of goods or damage to their properties.