HomeLocalTobacco selling season: Wives camp at auction floors

Tobacco selling season: Wives camp at auction floors

However the agony of having to spend as much as two weeks queuing to sell the tobacco is now clearly visible on these women.

The women with children as young as four months old strapped on their backs have spent at least two weeks holed up at the auction floors waiting in queues to sell their crop.

The conditions are deplorable as ablution facilities are scarce and food and accommodation is difficult to get.

Over the past years many male tobacco farmers have fallen victim to Harare’s commercial sex workers whom they found too good to resist.

Most of them end up going back home without their earnings, which they lose to the prostitutes.

Grace Mashami who has an eight month old baby said she decided to come to Harare and sell the tobacco herself because she could not trust her husband.

“You know men can’t be trusted with money,” she said “He will come here and sell the tobacco and spend it all on commercial sex workers and beer and come back home with nothing.”

Mashami said she had not bathed her child for almost two weeks because of the poor conditions.

She said her biggest nightmare was the unhygienic conditions she was exposing her child to. She also bemoaned the lack of ablution facilities at the auction floors.

“My baby hasn’t had a proper bath ever since we came here 10 days ago.

“I can’t bath her in those unhygienic bathrooms which are opened at 2am for us to use before they lock them up shortly after.

“She also hasn’t eaten porridge in as many days.

Tapiwa Kangausaru from Tengwe in Karoi who also has a six month old baby was in a similar predicament.

“You can’t send your husband and risk having all the money squandered away by someone who did not struggle for it,” she said.

“It’s not easy to grow tobacco and see your husband bring home another woman from what you toiled for on your own.”

Garikai Vengesai from Karireshi in Magunje whose three year old son was crying from hunger said they have been surviving on food handouts from well wishers.

Vengesai said she had to sleep in the open with her child in a crowded area together with other men and women.

“We sleep in the open and we didn’t come with warm blankets and sometimes it rains and becomes quite chilly,” she said.

“My son last had a meal yesterday around 6pm when someone gave him rice to eat,

“So he hasn’t eaten ever since.”

Vengesai who came to sell her five bales of tobacco said she could not leave the child at home because there was not one to look after her. 

This year’s tobacco selling season opened in February and expectations are that this year’s crop will exceed the 170 million kgs sold last year. 

The average tobacco price is expected to remain at more than US$3 per kg until the end of the marketing season.

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