The bread delivery van crews from the country’s three main bakeries are feeding the prevailing bread shortages for personal gains, the Harare Post has established.
During the weekend, this publication spoke to a number of tuck shop keepers who revealed that some bread delivery van crews were making personal fortune from the prevailing bread shortages by diverting most of their daily deliveries to the informal sector where they demand bribes.
“They sell me bread at $3.78 per loaf. In the past they would sell me an average of 30 loaves per day, lately they have been offering more provided I pay an extra 75 cents per loaf,” said Farai Muchaurawa, a tuck shop operator in Chitungwiza’s Zengeza 2 high density suburb.
“It looks like they are taking advantage of the disagreement between Government and the bakeries over the bread pricing to make money for themselves. They can’t demand bribes from supermarkets because they operate within the laws of the country. This is the reason why they are selling more bread to tuck shop owners than supermarkets. The practice has seen supermarkets and other formal retail outlets running out of bread very early in the morning, driving more business to us,” said Muchaurawa.
“I just wait for the bread trucks at the tuck shop near my lodgings and buy my stock. For as long as I pay them and the bribe, they just sell me the bread, no questions asked,” said Charlene Ruwende who was vending bread in the open at the Sunningdale shopping centre.
An attempt to interview a Proton delivery van driver who the Harare Post encountered at the Westlea shopping centre yielded no results as he flatly refused to entertain the crew.
The Harare Post could not readily establish whether or not the bakeries are sanctioning malpractice too.
“While I welcome the availability of bread, I am deeply concerned about the conditions under which it is being sold. It is unhygienic to sell bread on the roadside like this but I have no choice as I have children whose lunch boxes need bread for preparation,” said Perpetual Kativhu who was buying bread from a vendor at the junction of Golden Stairs Road and Harare Drive.
Apart from the hygiene concerns, consumers are also worried about the prices being charged by the bread vendors which range from $5 to $8 a loaf depending on the time of the day and the method of payment. Cash buyers are charged $5 or $6 while EcoCash users are charged $7 or $8.
This publication established that bread prices tend to be lower in the evening as vendors and tuck shop keepers seek to dispose the day’s stock ahead of the following day’s delivery.