Vendor city

22 06 2013

Vendors are everywhere in Harare. They sell everything from steering wheel covers, to cheap padlocks and of course food. The fruit vendors are especially numerous in the industrial sites where I spotted this one and they do a brisk trade at lunch time. Yes, I have in the past bought fruit off them and they will even offer to wash it for you and carry a bottle of water specifically for that purpose. There is of course no guarantee that the water itself is clean; it could be out of a tap at the back of a factory and one drinks tap water at one’s peril in Harare. Of course there is no saying that the vendor doesn’t have a swig out of the bottle now and again. Would YOU not drink out of the bottle of water you were carrying on a long, hot and dusty day?

A fruit vendor in the industrial sites of Harare. A bottle of water to "clean" your purchase...

A fruit vendor in the industrial sites of Harare. A bottle of water to “clean” your purchase…

Dubious Business

9 12 2008

My cell phone provider stopped taking cheques last month – by the time they banked them they were worthless bits of paper. Now I have to buy time with cash only. There are two ways to do this; either from an on the street vendor or at a branch of the provider. I found out yesterday that the vendors are charging 50% over the face value of the cards. This is apparently because there is a “shortage”. That three vendors were vying for my business and there was no queue of customers did not seem to occur to them that this was nonsense. So today I will have to call past the local provider’s office to see if I can get some time at the real value.

There is a snag there too of course. I might well find later this week that the half hour (say) that I bought today has become 10 minutes. Not because I used the time but because the provider has devalued it! I am not at all sure of the legality of this but I know that their argument will be that how do they revalue all the pre-printed (often the provider will print vouchers at the office) cards out there with the vendors? To which my reply will be that you can programme the central computer to revalue those that have not been submitted for use. It will fall on deaf ears of course.

I suppose the reality of all this is that we are now paying vaguely realistic values on our airtime. I do know for certain that cell phone usage has plummeted so mine gets even less use than it did before!