Home industry traders at the Glen View 8 complex have expressed worry over Zimbabwe’s poor economic performance saying they fear the situation might degenerate into the 2008 scenario when they sold most of their wares for a song.
By Tendai Keith Guvamombe
Glen View 8 Complex, a trading area that has promoted local Small to Medium Enterprises for many years is one of the success stories of the informal sector in Zimbabwe.
Due to the current cash crisis, furniture producers are finding it difficult to remain operational as some do not have point of sale machines to accept plastic money which is now the most used currency in the country.
In an interview with 263Chat, some of the furniture entrepreneurs at the Glen View 8 complex, Mathew and James Mutoga who partnered to establish Mutoga Furnitures in 2003 expressed anxiety at how their operations have been affected by the country’s current economic problem.
“To tell the truth, we do not know the exact point when this economic situation will turn for the better, I think this could be our worst performing year since we opened shop in 2003,” said Mathew.
He added that the state of the economy right now can be best described as the survival of the fittest.
“The state of the economy right now is a case of survival of the fittest, most of us here are struggling a lot especially, let’s hope we do not go back to a 2008 crisis,” added Mathew.
The other half of Mutoga Furnitures, James revealed that most informal traders at the complex are now failing to pay their rentals as business is low due to cash shortages.
“The most disturbing issue is when you are threatened to lose your operating space due to failure to pay rentals,” said James.
He added that Glen View 8 carpenters are caught between forcing themselves out of business by rejecting plastic money and buying cash at a premium from traders.
“We are not accepting EcoCash and bank transfers because our suppliers are also rejecting it, they need cash, so its like, you accept plastic money and then lose some due to premiums,” James said.
Even touts at the Furniture complex hinted that things are not well economically as they have to content with going home with less than $10.
Bernard Chiguwe noted that since the beginning of the cash crisis, he has seen his daily collections falling as some of the carpenters are paid through swipe.
“I have been here for 4 years, things are tight, we want clothes, food, school fees and rent for our families, if I relax no one out there comes to give me employment,” said Chiguwe.
Despite working for both producers and buyers, Chiguwe reckons that clients who purchase furniture nolonger pay as they used to do.
21 year old Allex Tabarwa, a specialist in the design and make of variety antique lounge suite, tables and chairs said he is coping though the situation is not the same as before.
“We are still alive because of the grace of God, otherwise we would be back in the roots, this economic hardship is affecting our operations because no one has money to spend on furniture, most people are now content with buying food, so its a battle of priorities” Tabarwa said.
Some of the traders at the Glen View 8 complex confided in 263Chat that most of the furniture they sell now is going at very low prices as customers often come without enough money and would negotiate for low prices.
“After spending a day without selling, you will obviously not want to lose a customer and that is why we end up selling furniture for low prices,” said Tabarwa.
He added that they have since slowed down production as turnover is low.
“We no longer produce furniture as much as we would want because there is a time when our store rooms are full to the brim, so we have to wait for some sales before we can make new furniture,” added Tabarwa.
With the economic situation getting worse with each passing day, informal traders are struggling to stay afloat and would want the government to create avenues for them to perform better.
“If they can negotiate with banks to rent out point of sale machines, or at least assist us to get cash because some of the raw materials we need can only be procured out of the country hence the need for foreign currency which is now trading at 40% on the parallel market,” Thomas Chibwe, another furniture producer at the Glen View 8 complex.