The Sunday Mail
FOUR self-taught panel beaters worked overnight in Gazaland, Highfield, last Sunday spray-painting a bedraggled Peugeot 504 pick-up truck, which was so unsightly that one would think its components were being held together by rust.
The vehicle neither had windshields nor good tyres but the workmen looked determined to give it a fresh appeal.
Apart from disturbing owls and other nocturnal animals, noise from their hammers and chisels equally affected people living close to the quartet’s improvised workshop.
The workmen were drinking and chatting all night long to avoid falling asleep.
“We have no choice my brother. This is our chance to make money and we have to ensure this car is complete before tomorrow morning because such brands are popular with tobacco farmers.
“They are making enquiries and we have promised them that we have a truck in perfect working order and whether or not it will work for them is a story for another day.
We also sell these cars voetstoets and when one encounters problems afterwards, it’s his own funeral.
“Ndeye kwake!” said one of the workmen as he gave the old jalopy a coat of cheap paint.
He said they would fit a powerful radio with booming speakers and the deal will be done.
Barely five yards from the quartet’s workshop, food vendors could be seen cutting yellowing green leafy vegetables with their bare hands for sale to tobacco farmers the following morning.
“This is Harare my brother. Once you snooze, you lose.
“These vegetables will be nice and tasty because we just mix them with peanut butter and the deal is done,” said a stocky food vendor as she wiped beads of sweat from her furrowed brow with the back of her hand.
Welcome to the tobacco selling season, which has kept people on their toes as they seek ways to wring cash from free-spending tobacco farmers.
As I commit pen to paper gentle reader, residents in suburbs near tobacco auction floors like Mbare, Lochnivar, Highfield, Glen View, Glen Norah, Waterfalls and Hopley have converted their houses into lodges as they cash in on the farmers.
Others have turned their houses into workshops where they are sewing overcoats, overalls, baby wear, clothes and kitchenware.
Some are welding scotch carts, burglar bars and farming tools like hoes, axes and picks for sale to the farmers.
Makeshift bands have been formed to entertain the farmers overnight while shebeens have mushroomed all over.
“Life in the capital is generally tough and we have to cash in on the tobacco selling season to make ends meet. I was taught to use my hands to earn a living because I do not have the heart to steal.
“This is why I have created a tailoring shop in my backyard to sew many things for the farmers. This season business is not as brisk as before but we will get something,” one landlady told this writer.
Ladies of the night are also frequenting the tobacco auction floors where they claim business is brisk.
“Most of these guys left their wives back in the rural areas so we are here to offer wifely favours to those who need them.
“During the afternoon we will be selling sadza and other foodstuffs and get clients. We are after the elusive dollar, waitwa seiko iwe,” said one lady of the night as she smiled aimlessly.
Some farmers are already crying after being made to pay for non-existent fertilisers or being sold fake seed and agro chemicals by people who are frequenting the auction floors.
Farmers need to apply self-restraint and exercise extreme caution before parting with their hard-earned money.