MOST residents of Makokoba high-density suburb in Bulawayo have ventured into selling tobacco despite a ban imposed against the sale of the product by vendors more than a decade ago.
Section 7 of Statutory Instrument 264 of 2002 on Public Health (Control of Tobacco) Regulations of 2002 reads: “No person shall sell or distribute any tobacco or tobacco products to any person except in a container on which is prominently displayed the message — smoking is harmful to health.”
However, most unemployed residents in the city’s oldest suburb openly sell tobacco in front of their houses.
A tobacco vendor Matilda Dube said she had ventured into selling tobacco after realising that it was in demand from the suburb’s elderly residents who used it for different purposes.
“Business is fair as we are able to fend for our families with the money that we generate from the sales. We are unemployed and cannot sit and watch our children not going to school,” Dube said.
Another vendor Sizalobuhle Hadebe said they bought the tobacco in bulk from Harare at $35 for 200kg and then packaged it into small satchets that they sold for R1, or 13 packets for $1.
Hadebe said they bought the tobacco unrefined and pounded and sieved it into fine dust powder.
“We purchase the tobacco in bulk from Harare at reasonable prices. We process the tobacco into fine powder and sell it for R1 a packet, or 13 packets for $1. Some people from the rural areas come and buy from us in bulk to sell in their villages and we also supply the majority of traditional healers in the city,” Hadebe said.
Another vendor said there was fierce competition in tobacco vending in Makokoba, but they still managed to make upwards of $150 monthly.
“A lot of people are now selling tobacco in our area and as a result we are not making much. Per month one can generate $150 which is not much ,but affords us to take our children to school and buy the basics,” Kudzani Nkomo said.
Vendors, however, complained that lately the police had been raiding them and confiscating their tobacco and making them pay $5 in fines.