Saturday 17 March 2018


Gazaland – a bustling shopping centre in Highfield, Harare – is a true urban melting pot.
Among the hundreds of people that earn their livelihoods at Gazaland are vendors, shop owners, second-hand car parts dealers, thieves and commercial sex workers.

Car breakers have populated the environs, with metal debris clogging space and mechanics turning parts of the shopping centre into a sprawling informal workshop. Gazaland also has a thriving panel beating and spray painting market.

With the number of cars on the country’s roads always increasing due to second-hand imports, panel beaters and spray painters have never had it this good.

It is estimated that since 2013, every year has seen 60 000 used cars entering Zimbabwe.
A good number of these imports are used as pirate taxis – a lawless vehicular population that many motorists say is responsible for an increase in scrapes and fender benders on the roads.

One man’s accident is another man’s joy. And Mr Denford Manjengwa, a panel beater and spray painter, is a satisfied man.

“Business is good here, as long as one is professional and knows what they will be doing,” Mr Manjengwa says.
A Class One panel beater and spray painter, Mr Manjengwa says the closure of the company that he used to work for proved to be a blessing in disguise.

“Last year, the company that I worked for folded and I thought then that it was the end of the world. I was wrong. The closure of the company forced me to start my own business and I am happy,” he says.

Together with four of his former workmates, Mr Manjengwa started Dent Panel Beaters and Spray Painters, one of the prominent spray painting and panel beating companies at Gazaland. The company employs 15 skilled artisans. Although players in this sector are enjoying brisk business, a number of the players are facing challenges.

“It is good that I am running my own company and I am now an employer. We are, however, facing a number of challenges, among them the delays in the formalisation of our businesses,” Mr Manjengwa says.

Mr Joseph Chimuso, another panel beater who operates at Gazaland, concurrs with Mr Manjengwa.
“The majority of the panel beating companies that operate here are not formally registered. The process of registering a company is fairly cumbersome,” Mr Chimuso complains. Insurance companies do not do business with companies that are not registered. As such, we find ourselves doing business with individuals. Most of our clients are struggling to pay for the services.”
Mr Chimuso wants Government to support this sector, which he says is a major source of employment.

“There is need for us to acquire the latest technology and without funding the majority of us are failing to modernise our operations. I am calling upon Government to implement measures that will make it easy for us acquire funding,” adds Mr Chimuso. Sunday Mail 


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