Bruce and I have recently been in Harare on our annual buying trip. Despite the welcome absence of Mugabe, life is still very tough for the locals, with the desperate shortage of currency strangling all aspects of the economy. We have noticed an explosion in the number of potholes and volume of traffic and the locals' crazy driving is terrifying. The fact that I'm doing all the driving while Bruce recovers from his recent shoulder reconstruction has certainly tested marital relations!
One hugely positive change is the lack of police roadblocks. Under Mugabe, the police (like most public servants) were seldom paid, so there were endless police stops with spot fines for whatever they could think up, including having an unclean car! President Mnangagwa has put an end to this and seems to have the police on a tighter leash.
Zimbabweans are amazing in their resourcefulness and ability to 'make a plan', so we have found all the carving communities still very active and busy and have selected a wonderful range of sculptures to ship back. (Pictured above is Elvis Mamvura, a favourite sculptor at the Chitungwize Arts Centre.) Similarly, the creative crafters and artists are still making silk purses out of sows ears (for example, this Macaroon Ball Light we've bought made from drink can ends) and we have really enjoyed re-connecting with all of them, and meeting some new artists.
Mnangagwa has just announced elections will be held on 30 July and any prospect of positive change for Zimbabwe is dependent not only on the outcome, but the process being accepted by all as 'free and fair'. There are numerous contentious issues coming to the boil here and many are not convinced that Mnangagwa, nicknamed The Crocodile and previously one of Mugabe's key henchmen, is a leopard that can change his spots. (And, speaking of leopards, we've bought this one which is made from plastic bags.) And so, Zimbabweans continue to wait for better days, and 'make a plan' in the meantime.