Cars have become mobile markets in Zimbabwe where enterprising residents are selling goods from their vehicles to cope with economic hardships caused by the coronavirus. With their car doors and trunks wide open by the side of busy roads, eager sellers display a colourful array of goods in Harare, the capital city.

In the trunk of a Mercedes, packets of rice, sugar and candies are neatly laid next to baby clothes, while blankets are displayed on the roof. The owner invites passersby to take a look, as his eyes dart sideways, on the lookout for police. Such unlicensed street vending is illegal and police have made a few arrests, but not enough to discourage the widespread practice.

Shelton Marange worked as a mechanic before he was laid off in May. Nowadays, he braves the southern hemisphere’s chilly winter weather and the risk of arrest or contracting coronavirus to drive to a village 30 kilometres away at dawn to buy vegetables from rural farmers. Then he heads back to Harare to resell the goods from the back of his small truck.

In Zimbabwe, selling items from the back of car trunks to beat economic hardships is not completely new, but it was mainly limited to those selling second-hand clothes. Now, newly unemployed people clog roadsides and street corners in both rich and poor suburbs in Harare to sell from their cars. Many said the items for sale are smuggled from neighbouring South Africa, which has closed its border posts with Zimbabwe as part of lockdown measures.

Zimbabwe’s economy had already shifted from full-time, salaried jobs to self-employed trading due to a steady trend of de-industrialization over the past two decades, and the coronavirus has just worsened the situation, said some economists. – Zimbabwe Mail