The Municipality of Kariba has resurfaced the major roads in Nyamhunga, a suburb slowly turning into the main activity-center for Kariba. It is now a joy for both tourists and locals to drive around without the worry of hitting a gaping pothole. But the same cannot be said for easy of doing business in Kariba for tourists. On the 28th November 2015 I accompanied a visiting school to the TM Supermarkets branch in Nyamhunga. After braving the long, winding queues, in a hot and stuffy atmosphere, you are then told that there is no change at the till machine. There were no coins of any description and an assortment of items was being offered as change or one’s till slip would be converted into an “open cheque” to en cash any time. Since the people I was with do not live in Kariba, they refused the credit system and turned down the sweets (and they didn’t want to be parked at the till waiting for change. I was embarrassed and eventually asked the till operator why he had to look for change when it should be the duty of managers to procure change from banks or greengrocers, or even airtime vendors for the tills. I didn’t believe the palpable lie that there are no coins in Kariba banks. It is unlikely that CBZ Bank of Zimbabwe Limited, CABS and ZB Bank are not providing coins as and when required. Otherwise they are short-changing the transacting public. My gut feeling is TM Supermarkets are abusing the monopoly they enjoy in this resort town and there is no state of preparedness for month ends, holiday periods or any other peak times. It is time competition moved in, or else tourists are best advised to do all their shopping outside Kariba, reducing the revenue due to this town. Whilst the long queues can be excused at peak times, the lack of change in the tills is an unpardonable act of holding a gun to shoppers’ heads and forcing them to buy items not on their shopping lists. It is an unscrupulous practice that should stop and the lazy managers not procuring change for their till operators do not deserve their plum jobs and fat salaries.
Competition is so healthy. In the fuel sector, the coming in of Glow Petroleum coincided with Zuva Petroleum’s rebranding. The Total Garage, which everyone could see needed a new lick of paint, is eventually getting a deserved face-lift as competition hots up. Prices have come down and everyone is benefiting. Our shopping experience should get the same, deserved upgrade. This “one-shop resort town” thing should stop forthwith. The community is being abused, not served. TM Supermarkets have the right to reply otherwise they should simply up their game and play ball.
By Laiton Kandawire.