Shopping malls have swallowed us, lament traders

By Staff reporter

Business in township markets has become a disaster for women ever since the PF took over government because they have given concessions to foreign-owned chain stores and supermarkets.
Further, the government has allowed these enterprises to expand in residential areas and compete with locals in selling basic commodities such as vegetables and traditional foods.
In an interview with Newsday Zambia today, 54 year old Florence Simacha who is a vegetable trader, said things used to be good in the UNIP era under Kenneth Kaunda but turned bad during the second republic of Frederick Chiluba .
She said the situation has, however, worsened under the PF-led government because the marketeers are finding it difficult to survive in the current environment.
“During the Kaunda era when there was Zambia Airways here in Chelston, we used to sale a lot and make good profit. Even if it was two kwachas then, it was enough to educate our children,’’ explained Simacha. ‘’Today, our children don’t eat the whole day and sit waiting for us whilst we are scrounging here in the market. We are barely managing to take our children to school at the moment.’’
Simacha explained that due to bad economic conditions sometimes the family consumed all proceeds from the merchandise, including capital.
And 55 year old Miniva Banda, a chicken trader in the same market, lamented that she spent K310 on monthly bills despite spending some days without sales and sometimes selling one chicken per day at K45 each.
She explained that she paid K100 for her stand K150 for chicken storage and K60 to the council every month despite having low sales.
“This is not sustainable, we are in trouble and being swallowed by the large chain stores like Shoprite and Zambeef and all the other malls surrounding the Chelston area. Why should people buy from us when there are people selling vegetables around the market without paying taxes?’’ asked Banda. ‘’How will we survive if the supermarkets are selling cheaper chicken pieces and selling everything ranging from vegetables, groundnuts and samp? I have no choice, I will stand up against them (Council) because I need to survive and I have a family to take care of. So, I have asked for this space and will make sure that no one takes it away from me. Hardship can make you rough and tough, I have to learn to stand up for my family against all odds.’’