Chinese investment changes face of downtown Harare (2)

17:26, July 13, 2010      

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Recently, one Harare resident Charlene Choto marveled at how some of the crumbled buildings had been brought back to life and turned into busy retail shops that have the distinct advantage of offering new and reasonably priced products.

"I am so happy that Chinese business has made our downtown buildings look new again. The refurbishments have brought beauty and glamour to our city and have also contributed to the general cleanliness of the town," Choto said.

She said she used to despise shopping in down town Harare because of the filthy buildings and the unclean environment but she now enjoyed shopping there because of the fresh environment and the availability of numerous Chinese shops that offer a wide choice of products.

The Chinese investment in the retail sector has also offered job opportunities to local Zimbabweans.

Almost all workers in Chinese-owned shops in Zimbabwe are locals.

Blessing Mutenyu, an employee in a fast rising Chinese super market chain in the capital said he was happy the Chinese offered him a job because he was now able to fend for his two siblings and parents living in rural Mtoko.

"I thought my life was doomed when I failed my secondary education but I am happy that the Chinese offered me a job as a till operator. I received in house training and I am performing my job very well," he said.

While initially Chinese merchandise was despised by locals for being of poor quality, the situation has changed now as most shops are stocking goods of superior quality.

Most Zimbabweans in the low to middle income bracket who find locally made clothes expensive now prefer buying clothes and other items from Chinese shops rather than buy old items at flea markets dotted around the city.

The country's locally made clothes are still expensive because of low production capacity in the textile industry.

"The good thing is that Chinese products are new, cheap and fashionable unlike those at flea markets," said Prisca Mhare, a Harare housemaid.

To many, Prisca now looks no more an ordinary housemaid thanks to fashionable clothes and hair accessories that she buys from Chinese shops.

Source: Xinhua
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