Magaba-Siyaso home industries market (loosely translated to mean tins as in metal containers), also known as Durawall, is a market place for metal work and other craftsmanship. It is home to flourishing car workshops, car parts sales and related metal working activities. It is a hub for budding entrepreneurs and artists where affordable products for the residents of Harare and other adjacent towns are made. You can get cooking pots, cups of all sizes and shapes and bathing basins. There are also carpenters producing tables, beds, chairs, display cabinets and even coffins. Recently, imported goods have found their way there. These create a livelihood for a substantial portion of the population of the suburb and beyond.
According to City of Harare records there are around 500 registered operators, but over the years a further 3,000 or more other have found their way there. The municipality of Harare has been reluctant to take the side of the registered traders and expel non-registered ones. They have been forced to turn a blind eye because of the dire socio-economic climate prevailing in the country.
Competition with other traders is very high due to the increased number of new entrants, including the growing number of retrenchees (and their family members perhaps) and those who want to supplement their dwindling incomes.
“It has become a provider of employment as well as a source of goods and services,” says Denford a wrought iron worker. “We are so many here that to sell your own products needs an aggressive marketing strategy. There are many who come here to work as salesmen, promoting what we produce,” added Denford.
“If you fail to get the product you want at Siyaso, then you might not find it in Harare,” remarks Tamson Sande, who specialises in metal fabrication. Sande, a resident of Mbare who migrated from Malawi with his father, mother and two sisters, says the market is so vibrant that skilled artisans have found their way there. “Back in the old days, skilled artisans scorned the place,” he says.
According to veteran trade unionist Lloyd Sachikonye, the Siyaso Market has expanded due to the economic downturn in the country. He says with real earnings dropping for the vast majority of the formal sector coupled with wage cuts by employers, apparently to save ailing companies from collapse, many people are being driven to the informal sector.
Sachikonye notes, “With the economy in free fall, Magaba Siyaso Market will continue to expand, swallowing even the nearby flats, as traders and craftsmen jostle for space to operate in one of the principal informal markets in Zimbabwe.”