Even though piracy has of late been described as an enemy of progress by local film and music producers, street vendors have identified a source of living through trading pirated CDs and DVDs. A typical blessing in disguise story.
The prevailing economic difficulties have led to such a successful black market of pirated DVDs forcing movie houses like Rainbow to close shop.
By David Zvina
Many Zimbabweans now prefer the small screen in their living rooms,watching pirated copies of new film releases to save money, and in turn bringing the curtain down on the big screen experience.
Not only has piracy outsmarted the cinemas , and has rendered then ghost house and for those that are still functional people barely visit them.
A recent visit to Westgate cinemas not only confirmed the reality that were now have face ,but it even gave us a hint as to why movie houses which should be dominating in this digital era are on the brink of extinction.
Going to the movie houses costs $6 per person yet vendors on the streets are selling the same movies on disk for just 50cents. Cinemas have failed to structure their prices right to attract as well as eliminate the competition they are facing.
The prices themselves will push you elaborated one individual ,You can do the math and you see why I stay at home and buy from the guys in the streets rather than going to a movie house and pay 6 to ten dollars especially during this economic era,” said 26-year-old Samantha Baranza, a clerk at a Harare automotive spare parts distributor.
Dozens more discs are in his satchel as he jostles for customers with hordes of other traders trying to sell copies to motorists and shoppers along Ruzende street just a few kilometers from police headquarters.
Some of them give me their phone numbers and I always call them when a new exciting movie is out so they can buy while it’s still hot,” he said.
Selling pirated discs is the only job Raramai has known since leaving school in 2014. He said he gets his wares for 30 cents a copy from a friend “who has a computer.” On a good day he sells up to 60 copies at a 50 cents each.
“Business has been going down. Our major competition is coming from home entertainment, which is what most people are resorting to nowadays because of the cheap DVDs flooding the streets,” said Tawanda Pswarayi, controller at movie distributor Ster-Kinekor, which has the only remaining cinema houses in the country.
At times, only 10 people arrive to watch a show in a 200-seater auditorium, whilst the rest get the movie experience from the vendors that have cloned the streets he said.
In buildings where movie theaters once existed in Zimbabwe, evangelical churches are now frequently flourishing. Daily services are packed. And the boys on the streets are taking over with each day.