Curio Sellers Count Their Loses As Tourists Cut Travel

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

CURIO and fresh flower sellers in Bulawayo are counting their loses as the 21-day lockdown announced by the government a fortnight ago to curb the spread of COVID-19 takes a toll on their closed businesses.

Bulawayo City Hall curio and flower sellers who mostly depend on international holidaymakers told that following the lockdown they were now struggling to feed families as the clampdown had taken a toll on their businesses at the Bulawayo City Hall.

“When the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) announced the lockdown, I had prepared numerous flower bouquets for my clients. Each bouquet costs US$40. All the flowers have gone bad and I have lost almost US$700. I have nowhere to turn to and staying at home without food is now a big challenge for me,” said Spiwe Mpala, a florist.

A curio seller, Jimmy Chigondore said his livelihood has been shattered by the lockdown.

“For us curio sellers, I do not think we will be able to recover from this setback considering that the bulk of our clients are international holidaymakers from countries such as Germany, USA, France, United Kingdom and China as they buy our curios as souvenirs,” he said.

“If you look at it, these countries have been mostly affected by COVID-19. It will take some time for tourists from these countries to come to Zimbabwe.”

Chigondore said while the lockdown was a welcome move as it was aimed at saving lives, it had serious financial implications on him and his colleagues.

The vendors said they were not sure if they qualified for the $600 million fund recently announced by government to cushion those running small businesses from the impact of the unprecedented business break.

“We are not sure if the facility covers us but we will engage the government through our association on what is on the table for us. Our biggest challenge is how to get information about the fund because it was announced when the country was already under lockdown. Our members have been greatly affected,” he said.