Manicaland’s experiment of using local businesses to sell subsidised roller meal from vans to residents in their immediate area during the lockdown proved so successful that the Mutare team is expanding the concept to other areas.
The programme initially targeted Mutare and Makoni districts with two retailers, Family First Choice Supermarkets and Big Byte Groceries, serving communities in Hobhouse, Chikanga, Sakubva, Gimboki and Dangamvura in Mutare and N.Richards, Metro Peech, TM Pick n Pay and SAV Wholesalers, doing the same in Makoini.
Mutare district Covid-19 chairperson Mr Wilson Boore said the programme had been yielding positive results, which necessitated the coming on board of other retailers to cover other areas.
“The programme has been moving well and we now have more retailers that have joined. Although we are still to get more millers to supply our retailers with the product, we are confident this will work. So far we are getting the bulk of the roller meal from Mega Market. National Foods has only supplied a very small amount as it prefers to sell to the bigger supermarkets. We are hoping that as the biggest player, they will increase supply to the retailers in our programme,” he said.
He said the players who had come on board included Wealthbird Supermarkets, which is covering Mutare’s low density areas and Penhalonga. Odzi, Arda Transau and Chitakatira areas are being supplied by Rollben Enterprises, while Munakamwe is serving FernValley, Zimunya and parts of Chimanimani. Mega Family Choice has been allocated the Nyanga market and part of Mutasa.
Mr Boore said other retailers including Millers’ Pride, Mega Foods and Mwamuka Butchery and Grocery were yet to be allocated areas to operate from.
“The agreement is that every district in the province should be covered so the provincial taskforce is working with these retailers to ensure that they coordinate their service and avoid overlapping into the same areas,” he said. Retailers have been accepting $70 or US$2 for a 10kg bag of roller meal.
However, there have been concerns that retailers were only accepting cash and US dollar payments while shunning plastic money; that was stopped.
Mr Boore said the district taskforce had been monitoring the retailers to ensure that they did not prejudice the public.
“We have been following up on the teams and although there were instances in the initial stages when there was an outcry from the public that they were only taking US dollar payments, we moved in to address the situation and directed them to accept all payments and this has been happening,” he said.
Family First Choice Supermarket director Mr Simbarashe Charamba said retailers had increased the number of vehicles moving in the suburbs to cover more ground.
“We are glad that more players have come on board as this will enable us to cover more ground since all areas will be covered at the same time. We realised that we were taking long to serve a few people because mobile money transactions take more time than cash payments, so we now have three vehicles moving around. One is selling in foreign currency while another sells in bond notes and the third accepts Ecocash and OneMoney. This was done to ensure that we move with speed,” he said.
However, Mr Charamba said the vehicle accepting US dollar was moving faster than all others hence the outcry that they were not accepting other forms of payment.
“We are accepting all forms of payment, but because the turnaround time for the US dollar vehicle is faster, some might feel they have no choice, but to buy. We have been encouraging residents to be patient and wait for the other vehicles so that they use the form of payment most comfortable for them. This programme is there to bring food closer to the people and we are committed to ensuring the vulnerable get served,” he said.