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community bulletin - August 2012
Chitungwiza's "Economic Boom"
Chitungwiza is experiencing an "economic boom" in the retail sector as more and more youths are venturing into retailing. A record number of retail shops commonly known as "tuck shops" have resurfaced across the dormitory town in the last one year as the country's economy continues to ail with few economic opportunities. Historically tuck shops have generally been a source of livelihood for few people in Zimbabwe's high density suburbs servicing smaller communities and neighbourhoods with daily household needs such as bread, milk and cigarettes. However, this industry disappeared from the scenery after the infamous government-led Operation Murambatsvina in 2005 which targeted the so-called illegal structures, only to resurface in the last year.
These tuck shops have mushroomed in almost every street and street corner in Chitungwiza. Some streets have more than 3 tuck shops occupying either the front or backyard. The majority have emerged at Makoni shopping centre and Taita in Unit O.
An enquiry by this reporter found out that Chitungwiza Municipality has authorized residents to erect these once "illegal structures" on condition that they apply for an operating license and pay a US$35 monthly fee. However, in inter-viewing some of the tuck shop owners in Unit O, most complained that rampant corruption existed in acquiring these licences and were constantly at the mercy of the Municipal Police who harass them and demand bribes where one is not in possession of a licence. "Our plight is also worsened by the small profits we get considering the number of these tuck shops at the shopping centre and those located in the residential homes", said Taurai Choto of Unit O, Chitungwiza. It is evident that the re-emergence of tuck shops in Chitungwiza and around the country is another desperate attempt by the many jobless youth to make ends meet in an economy where survivalist tactics have become the norm.
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