These boxes are dumped at tobacco auction floors. None of the traders is allowed to bring their own packaging boxes to the market places. Even if they do, they will still be asked to pay the US$4 for boxes bought elsewhere, leaving them with no choice.
Each trader who comes to Mbare with their bananas are forced to buy packaging boxes at US$4 each from the business opportunists, hiding behind the name of Zanu PF to force compliance. It is unclear whether this scam has the blessings of Zanu PF or not.
In separate interviews, traders told the HRT that they have lived with this extortionate situation for a very long time. Previous complaints to the District Offices yielded nothing as they ended up being the victims. Now they fear to make any reports to the City of Harare because the people who receive their reports relay the information back to the same people who are forcing them to part with their money.
One trader said: ?These boxes are too expensive. During this rainy season they get wet and we are forced to buy more from these people. We are also charged US$2 for cleaning services on Mondays and Fridays.?
On further enquiry, the traders fingered Jeshua Gore, the Zanu PF District Coordinating Committee Chairman for Mbare, Edward Chataika, a Zanu PF Central committee member and a loosing candidate for Sunningdale Parliamentary Constituency in the 29 March 2008 Harmonised Elections.
The area, located at the entrance to the main bus terminus for the Mutare Bus rank, near the chicken market, is reportedly owed by a local businessman only identified as Kajuni, who pays only US$30 as monthly rentals to the City of Harare. Yet, according to the traders, Kajuni earns between US$5 000 and US$7 000 every week from the sale of packaging boxes to the banana traders.
The money is then reportedly shared among people, among them the District Officer at Remembrance, only identified as Mr Mujeni and a Mr Chibanda. Why the HRT has no safe methods of verifying this scenario, what became apparent was that this was part of the life at the market where the traders have to part with their hard-earned money just to safeguard their markets.
To compound their suffering, the traders are also reportedly being forced to buy food cooked only at a household only identified as Mbauya?s. If any of the traders decides to cook their own food, then they are charged US$3 for water usage for the duration of their stay at the market, which serves as a stopover or transit place, where the bananas have to ripen first before they are transferred to the farmers? markets, next to the Mbare?s retail market.
The HRT urges the City of Harare to take the necessary measures to protect the traders against this exploitative system by private businessmen, who continue to benefit from council grounds. This has to be investigated, and those in the employ of the council found to be conniving with these people who are enriching themselves at the expense of generating revenue for the City of Harare.