Deprived Zim Communities at the Mercy of Food Smugglers as Food Prices Rise

Deprived Zim Communities at the Mercy of Food Smugglers as Food Prices Rise (News Central TV)
A women carries bags towards the Beitbridge border post, near Musina, used by many Zimbabweans as a way to get back into Zimbabwe from South Africa so they can vote in the National elections. – The Beitbridge crosses over the Limpopo river which is an infamous crossing point for illegal migrants and refugees coming into South Africa from Zimbabwe. Many Zimbabweans are using this border post as a way to get back into Zimbabwe from South Africa so they can vote in the Zimbabwean National elections that take place on 30 July 2018. (Photo by WIKUS DE WET / AFP) (Photo credit should read WIKUS DE WET/AFP/Getty Images)

Following the withdrawal of some international donors due to unsustainable debt many years ago, Zimbabwe is currently experiencing an outrageous hike in prices of food, fuel, and electricity, amongst others.
Inflation has become rampant in the country and the Russian invasion of Ukraine is worsening an already terrible situation. Grain prices have gone up in Russia by 66%, and as Zimbabwe’s main supplier of wheat, it is gradually becoming a thing of concern.

“We have to prepare for a wave of price increases,” Confederation of Retailers (CZR) president Denford Mutashu, predicted that Zimbabweans will shop even more in neighbouring South Africa to avoid the price hike.

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Many disadvantaged communities now rely on informal delivery men, often in league with the border guards for food. They pass mealie meals, the staple dish, and bring the groceries to the doorsteps of customers in Zimbabwe.

Street retailer, Grant Nyeke, sells basic commodities on the streets of Harare, Zimbabwe. Nyeke sells items smuggled into Zimbabwe from neighbouring countries. (Linda Mujuru, GPJ Zimbabwe)

A 44-year-old Zimbabwean, Mason Mapuranga, says he has been actively involved in the job for two years, and it has been easy, relaxing and more profitable.

“Customers get in touch via WhatsApp, choose the products, pay into a South African account and then I deliver. It’s simple,” he revealed. And it also allows him to avoid the uncertainties of local currency fluctuations.

“Every time we deliver, we are greeted with smiles: it shows the level of gratitude, because these people if they didn’t receive this food, would go hungry,” he added.

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