How Taurai became Donga’s self appointed Councillor
When Zimbabwe’s broken economy reached its all time low in the late 90’s, many of her citizens crossed the border into Botswana in search of a better life.
In 1999, their number included 38-year-old Noah Taurai.
Leaving Mutare with nothing but the will to survive, Taurai arrived in Francistown and knocked on gates looking for piece jobs.
His target was odd jobs shunned by local men and women, and he found them in abundance.
“I used to work for a white man back in Zimbabwe. I did landscaping on his property, but soon things were bad and he could no longer afford to keep me – that’s when I decided to bring my hustle here,” he told Voice Money.
Taurai got his first piece job in Donga in 2000, cutting trees and cleaning a yard.
“The neighbour was very impressed with how I transformed her neighbour’s yard and immediately hired me,” he remembers with a chuckle.
“Soon word went out that there was a Zimbabwean man extremely good in what he does, and offers soon came from all directions,” reveals a beaming Taurai.
“Today I have 21 loyal clients who have been with me since the beginning of the new millennium,” he said.
It is during the rainy season like now that, clad in his unmistakable orange overalls and riding his Hamba bicycle, Taurai can be spotted in and around Donga.
“I’m literally this area’s Councillor. I know all corners and almost everyone who has lived here since 2000,” he said with serious conviction.
Indeed, the Zimbabwean is so well known and trusted in areas such as Donga, China Town and Block 10, that some of his clients don’t mind leaving house keys with him.
“The first thing that one has to do is to gain their client’s trust, that’s why I managed to have a very big clientele for over 15 years, and I’m still counting.”
However, Taurai ruefully notes that his biggest problem is his homeboys from Zimbabwe who come into the country to steal and commit all sorts of horrors including murder.
“This is bad for my business. Some people just don’t trust Zimbabweans and you can’t blame them. Imagine if someone breaks into a house I just cleaned, I’ll be the first suspect. This criminal activities by some of my homeboys is a great concern, they are giving us a bad name,” he complained.
The Mutare born urged the Botswana government to come up with strict laws to protect her citizens from foreigners who come into the country with bad intentions.
“It is not acceptable. I’m here and I’m earning clean money. I sweat everyday to make money for my children and the next day people are hostile towards me because my fellow countryman decided to make a dishonest quick buck. There are thousands of honest Zimbabweans in this country who feel the same way,” he said.
The ‘Honourable Councillor’ also fired shots at local men and women who spend the whole day doing nothing instead of going out to eke a living.
“It’s heart-breaking to see. Most young men here are ashamed to take a spade and clear someone’s yard for P200. They’d rather spend hours at a drinking spot mooching off others,” said Taurai.
“I long stopped smoking and drinking and focused on making money and giving my family a decent life. Hopefully one day I’ll get a work permit because travelling to and from Mutare affects my business,” he added.
The ever-smiling Zimbabwean added that while locals are ashamed of trimming trees and collecting rubbish, he easily collects about P4, 500 every month from his 21 clients.
“It is a rewarding job and I’m truly thankful for my clients for trusting me and sticking with me for all these years. Their continued support has enabled me and my family to stay alive during this challenging times in my home country,” he said.
The diminutive and bubbly Taurai ends the interview by wishing all unemployed former Tati Nickel mine workers well.
“I feel for them, I know how disruptive it can be for one to lose their jobs. Five of them were my loyal clients who paid me so well, and went out of their way to make me comfortable,” he said before cycling away on his black Hamba.