While many informal traders and vendors in Gweru closed shop since day 1 of the government proclaimed 21 days lockdown, 78-year-old Ratsai Banda, a herbalist selling a coterie of traditional concoctions has never left the streets of Gweru and his conviction is, his trade fits well under the essential services during these trying times.
Banda says he has been taken to Gweru Central Police Station several times by police patrolling the streets but he has always “triumphed” in pleading with the law enforcement agents that people, especially men, are in dire need of his services during the 21 days lockdown.
“As we speak I am from the police charge office, they picked me several times saying I should leave the streets but I have always proffered a worthy argument that what I sell and what I offer falls under essential services especially to men who need to boost their immune system during these 21 days of lock down.
“I am an elderly, they did not arrest me but at times they confiscate my products but as soon as I get out of the charge office, I quickly brew some herbs and display for people to buy,” he said.
Among his collections, Banda says he sells traditional herbs that helps raise men’s libido, herbs which help cure Blood Pressure among others.
A 500mls of his concoction sells for ZWD$20 and Banda claims he is selling more than what he used to sell before the lock down.
“Before the lockdown, I used to prepare 50 bottles which I would l struggle to clear the whole day. Since the lockdown I don’t spend 2 hours in the CBD, the 50 bottles will be gone even if the human traffic is very low,”
“This shows how essential my herbs are,” says Banda who claims police officers form part of his major clientele base.
He claimed his herbal solutions help boost immune system that can also prevent attacks from the Covid-19.
So daring that amid calls by the law enforcement agents and the media also playing its part in informing the people to stay home to avoid the spread of the pandemic, Banda has chosen a pavement just outside Herald’s Gweru offices, a stone throw away from Gweru Central Police Station, as his trading base.
His reason for choosing the place is somewhat comical.
“I chose here because it’s near a media organization, I want the media to also inform people that traditional herbs can save them from this pandemic. It’s a pandemic we have not witnessed but the solution lies in traditional herbs,” he said.