Shopping Malls losing lustre

 Southern Eye Newspaper By Michael Mdladla Ndiweni

The glory of shopping at shopping complexes had diminished. The past weeks I visited the Nkulumane and Entumbane shopping malls, the facilities are now a pale shadow of its former self. Few people were seen milling around the complexes. I remember vividly during the turn of the millennium when these facilities used to be a hive of activity, the likes of the then radio DJs would conduct live shows to woo customers to the malls. Now it is disheartening to observe the dilapidating infrastructure, closure of shops at the mall, some sports bars are now reminiscent of traditional beer halls, litter everywhere at Nkulumane complex. It is embarrassing to note that international brands like Choppies, OK and others can be associated with such dirty I saw at the mall, something has to be done. I wonder why tenants can’t hire a few general hands to do the cleaning outside the shops. I equally blame powers that be for failing to market concept of shopping malls to the international world. I checked the internet and was saddened to note that in the Wikipedia there are only two shopping malls listed in Zimbabwe, in Bulawayo there is Bulawayo Centre and in Harare its Eastgate Centre. I think our local authorities are not serious about taking the idea of shopping malls to the world. They should embrace digitalization and market online. I made a comparison with our neighbor in South Africa the list for shopping malls in endless, since we boast of the highest literacy rate why cant the country be ahead in terms of utilizing opportunities brought by the internet. Statistics released by Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) the past week showed that within 12 months, the number of internet subscriptions rose from an estimated 4,4 million to 5,2 million by end of December 2013. The latest statistics show that the bulk of the subscriptions, 5,16 million, are mobile Internet connections using 2G, 2,5G and 3G connections, tourists visiting the country will frequent some of these shopping malls if well marketed and the trickledown effect will benefit vendors the malls. Imagine a group tourists visiting flea market nearby and I will not list the benefits. I concluded that the once glamorous shopping mall image can be retained if powers that be put their heads together for the development of communities and growing local economies. In Bulawayo imagine tourists who come to view Umdala wethu statue and then taken for township tour and doing their shopping at either Entumbane or Nkulumane outside the bustle and tussle of the city centre. Someone must do something before the complexes become a haven of cockroaches and rats. Cry beloved Bulawayo. Michael Mdladla Ndiweni – Southern Eye 28 January 2013

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