The Sunday News
Colin Moyo, Sunday News Reporter
FEMALE waste pickers at Richmond Landfill site (Ngozi Mine) have reported that intermediaries who connect them with end buyers offer them extremely low prices, making it difficult for them to make ends meet.
This emerged in a meeting held by the Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) last week.
Female waste pickers raised concern that the waste buyers at the landfill site are taking advantage of the incessant rains to swindle the waste pickers of their wares through price fixing
Speaking during community engagement meeting, the waste pickers said the buyers are reducing buying price of waste by 33 percent, in some cases, claiming that the waste is wet and thus they have to cater for the water weight.
“We feel the pain as the buyers rob us of our waste we collect as they reduce the prices as they claim that plastics weigh water when it’s raining without knowing if they really are telling us the truth as we have no other option but to take the money so as to feed our families. There is need to have direct links with the end buyers as the middleman after underpricing our waste they then demand the money generated from the sales,” said one of the waste pickers who identified herself as Mrs Esthel Phiri.
“Every year when it’s raining, these buyers reduce buying price of our products. For example, during this current rain, they are now buying plastic at ZWL$10 per kilogramme down from the normal price of ZWL$15 bond which they usually buy with,” she added.
Another waste picker Mrs Nomagugu Sibanda said the practice by the middlemen was now resulting in them running losses.
“We have a problem as the waste pickers especially in the current rainy season we are in, the buyers are now buying plastic at ZWL$10 whilst they buy rubber for ZWL$20 to ZWL$25 and every year they reduce prices when it’s raining, “said Mrs Sibanda.
“On top of reducing the prices, some of the buyers even demand that they share the picked waste half – half with the picker,” she said.
In a report MIHR said the middleman have created a monopoly where the waste pickers fail to sell their waste to the direct buyers in Harare.
“Most waste pickers in Bulawayo are struggling to access waste recyclers in Harare due to the monopoly and cartelism that has been created by the middlemen. If a waste picker tries to by-pass the middlemen to sell directly to recyclers in Harare, the recyclers will not buy the waste, “reads the report.
“MIHR is assisting the waste pickers to have a direct contact with the recyclers in order to increase the incomes that they get from the waste they pick. Currently the organisation has noted that by selling through the middlemen, the waste pickers are losing over 70% income earnings, “reads the report.
The organisation has enabled the waste pickers to establish a Bulawayo Waste Pickers Association which is critical to championing the rights and welfare of waste pickers as well as to negotiate for waste pricing and waste value addition for the benefit of the waste pickers, especially the females and youths.