Female waste pickers in Bulawayo have complained that the waste buyers at Ngozi Mine Landfill site are taking advantage of the incessant rains to swindle the waste pickers of their wares through price fixing.
Speaking during a Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) organized waste pickers and business community engagement meeting, the waste pickers said the buyers are reducing buying price of waste by 33% in some cases, claiming that the waste is wet and thus they have to cater for the water weight.
“Every year when its raining, these buyers reduce buying price of our products. For example they during this current rain, they are now buying plastic at ZWL10 bond per kg down from the normal price of ZWL15 bond which they usually buy with” complained Esthel Phiri who has been a waste picker for nearly 17 years.
Another waste picker Nomagugu Sibanda reiterated the same points and further explained that on top of reducing the prices, some of the buyers even demand that they share the picked waste half – half with the picker.
Some of the waste pickers who were present in the meeting concurred these allegations and further noted that the problem is mainly with the middlemen buyers but the recyclers do not put those conditions.
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 try to by-pass the middlemen to sell directly to recyclers in Harare, the recyclers will not buy the waste.
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 organization has noted that by selling through the middlemen, the waste pickers are losing over 70% income earnings.
The organization 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.