Many Zimbabweans sell goods from their cars in hard times

HARARE, ZIMBABWE (AP) – Cars have become mobile markets in Zimbabwe where enterprising residents are selling goods from their vehicles to cope with economic hardships caused by the coronavirus.

With their car doors and trunks wide open by the side of busy roads, eager sellers display a colourful array of goods in Harare, the capital city.

In the trunk of a Mercedes, packets of rice, sugar and candies are neatly laid next to baby clothes, while blankets are displayed on the roof. The owner invites passersby to take a look, as his eyes dart sideways, on the lookout for police. Such unlicensed street vending is illegal and police have made a few arrests, but not enough to discourage the widespread practice.

Shelton Marange worked as a mechanic before he was laid off in May. Nowadays, he braves the southern hemisphere’s chilly winter weather and the risk of arrest or contracting coronavirus to drive to a village 30 kilometres away at dawn to buy vegetables from rural farmers.

Then he heads back to Harare to resell the goods from the back of his small truck.

“These are my bolts, nuts, spanners these days,” he said jokingly, pointing to cabbages, carrots, tomatoes, onions and potatoes packed in the back of the pickup.

To beat the competition, many of whom stay in one spot, Marange moves around, selling his produce from spot to spot from morning until dusk.

Zimbabwe’s economy was already in the doldrums before the coronavirus, beset by rising inflation, the declining value of the local currency, high unemployment, and acute shortages of water, electricity and gas.

Fruits for sale by the side of a busy road in Harare, Zimbabwe. PHOTO: AP