‘Mbare musika is ours’: an analysis of a fresh produce market in Zimbabwe

Chikulo, Shiela; Hebinck, Paul; Kinsey, Bill


The functioning of markets is premised on the creation of collaborative relationships and networks. Food markets in Zimbabwe are evolving in response to state interventions that aim to restructure the marketplace and the flow of produce. This article explores Mbare Musika, the oldest and largest marketplace in Harare supplying the city with fresh fruit and vegetables. We analyse Mbare Musika from the perspective of the interactions among farmers and retailers, vendors, transporters, intermediaries, officials, and customers, in creating and sustaining a specific enduring market. We use actor narratives to understand the ordering and(re)ordering of people and produce in the context of informalization,shifting polycentric relationships, and market infrastructure to sustain livelihoods anchored on the circulation of large volumes of diverse fresh produce. The market is overtly economic in outlook but, intrinsically, it is asocial arena where discourses are continuously reconstructed, reproduced,and expressed through daily interactions. We situate Mbare Musika in past and present sociopolitical processes of transformation in Zimbabwe.