Harare bustles as people cope with challenges

 Harare bustles as people cope with challenges

Girls carrying buckets of water on their heads, people praying at sunset, children in uniforms going to their first day of the new school term.

As controversy swirled around the mourning period and burial for former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, most people in the capital Harare were busy coping with the challenges of daily life, amid shortages of electricity, water, fuel and cash.

The shortages are the latest symptoms of Zimbabwe's economic decline that began in 2000 when Mugabe launched the seizures of farms owned by whites. The chaotic, often violent confiscations triggered a collapse of the once productive agricultural sector and began a downward economic spiral. Further mismanagement brought about hyperinflation reaching more than 1 billion percent in 2009, which was only halted when the country abandoned its currency for the U.S. dollar.

 
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe officiates at a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University in Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe officiates at a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University in Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

 

Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, a city of 1.5 million, bustles with activities of people scraping by, including street traders selling second-hand clothes, people striding to work past faded murals of Mugabe and women carrying baskets of laundry they had just washed in a muddy creek.

But life in the capital is not all work. Children play on swings and unemployed young men wile away their time playing pool and drinking potent, and illegal, home brew.

Harare once enjoyed a reputation for being a city with lights on all night. But with widespread power cuts lasting 19 hours per day, residents find themselves living like rural famers, getting up at dawn and going to bed at dark.

Supporters of Zimbabwe's former ruler Robert Mugabe react upon the arrival of his remains at RG Mugabe airport in Harare, Sept, 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Supporters of Zimbabwe's former ruler Robert Mugabe react upon the arrival of his remains at RG Mugabe airport in Harare, Sept, 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A resident looks out from the stairwell of her housing block, on which is painted an informational mural against sexual abuse, in the low income neighborhood of Mbare, known to have many supporters of former president Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, Sept. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A resident looks out from the stairwell of her housing block, on which is painted an informational mural against sexual abuse, in the low income neighborhood of Mbare, known to have many supporters of former president Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, Sept. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Zimbabweans sit and pray on top of a large rock on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe, Sept. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Zimbabweans sit and pray on top of a large rock on the outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe, Sept. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Children help each other to carry a bucket filled with water in Harare, Sept. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Schoolboys walk back home on the first day of the school term, in Kuwadzana, on the outskirts of the capital Harare, in Zimbabwe, Sept. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A fisherman rows his boat after casting his nets for the night, in Lake Chivero, west of the capital Harare, in Zimbabwe, Sept. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A fisherman rows his boat after casting his nets for the night, in Lake Chivero, west of the capital Harare, in Zimbabwe, Sept. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A street seller is seen reflected in mirrors for sale, at a market in the low income neighborhood of Mbare, known to have many supporters of former president Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, Sept. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A street seller is seen reflected in mirrors for sale, at a market in the low income neighborhood of Mbare, known to have many supporters of former president Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, Sept. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A young child walks past a poster of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in a building in Harare, Sept. 6, 2019. (AP Photo)

A young child walks past a poster of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in a building in Harare, Sept. 6, 2019. (AP Photo)

An ice cream vendor reads a newspaper on a street in Harare, Zimbabwe, Sept. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

A man pushes an empty cart past a portrait of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in Harare, Sept. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Schoolchildren attend a class in the Shona language on the first day of term at the Vimbai Primary School in Norton, west of the capital Harare, in Zimbabwe, Sept. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Schoolchildren attend a class in the Shona language on the first day of term at the Vimbai Primary School in Norton, west of the capital Harare, in Zimbabwe, Sept. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Supporters of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe place his portrait next to that of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare, Sept, 10, 2019. Mnangagwa declared him a national hero. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)

Supporters of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe place his portrait next to that of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare, Sept, 10, 2019. Mnangagwa declared him a national hero. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File)