By Tafirenyika Nemadire
Harare, December 03, 2013-The closure of Ximex Mall shopping mall in Harare’s central business district has brought tears and hunger to hundreds of youths and their families who for more than a decade had been earning a living from trading their wares from the mall.
Situated at the corner of Jason Moyo and Angwa Street, the shopping mall was one of the busiest business centres in the capital and offered dozens of unemployed youths a sanctuary to conduct their informal trading deals, some dirty though.
The then busy place, Ximex Mall is now a white elephant after the local authority through the government’s directive closed the shopping mall rendering hundreds youths “jobless”, hopeless and desperate.
According to the Harare city council, the mall was closed early October because of ‘illegal practices and illicit deals’ which had ‘reached alarming levels’.
The local authority also claimed that tenants had debts accruing from unpaid rentals and bills.
But the youths who were earning a living from operating at the mall feel betrayed by President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU (PF) party whose officials they said lied to them before the July 31 elections.
In the run-up to the July 31 national elections ZANU (PF) engaged vendors throughout the city including those who were conducting business at the Ximex mall .The ruling party told the youths to form some groups of 50 people who would then be given capital to start some businesses under the indigenisation and empowerment laws.
“When they met us here before the elections they said they were going to create better places for us to operate from. They told us that we should vote for them if we wanted to be empowered. But look now is this empowerment?” asked one of the youths who has been operating from Ximex mall for more than five years.
“They told us that they were rather going to increase such malls like Ximex mall and they never hinted on the closure of this place. What is happening now is totally the reverse of what they told us when they were campaigning, “another youthful vendor told Radio VOP.
“This is the time they (ZANU (PF) were supposed to intervene and open the mall than closing it. There are no jobs and we hear that more companies are shutting down,” Collen Muzuva who sells mobile phone accessories said.
Since the closure of the mall vendors have resorted to selling their wares from outside the building where they are playing cat and mouse game with both the municipal police and the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
The ZRP last week launched an operation it code-named Restore Order in which they are targeting cell phone dealers in the CBD including Ximex mall.
“They closed our working place and they are following us outside where we are doing business, and we wonder how they want us to survive. We cannot stay at home doing nothing. We have families to feed and this can only be possible if we find somewhere to work from,” Tonderai Muzeya who sells second hand cellphones said.
“We are not denying that there are some of us who were duping people here, and such people are found even in the church,” he added.
“I do not see the reason why the police are chasing us from the streets where we are selling our wares for a living. Where do they want us to go? Do they want us to become thieves? At Ximex Mall, we were selling our products in good faith without sealing from anyone,” Davison Munyariwa said.
There appears to be no solution to the vendors’ predicament as Zimbabwe’s economy appears headed for the worst. Several companies have reportedly closed shop thereby condemning several people into unemployment. President Mugabe’s administration also appears clueless on solving the economic malaise as evidence by the failure by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa to present the 2014 national budget as has traditionally been done every November of each year.