Moving to Zimbabwe

The recent troubles of Zimbabwe under the 26 year presidency of Robert Mugabe have been laid bare before the world via considerable media coverage and a currency hyperinflation episode that saw the country abandon the Zimbabwean dollar in 2009 after three redenominations failed to combat the problem. (The US dollar is now the most popular alternative currency.) Political oppression, human rights abuses, a faltering economy and epidemics of HIV/AIDS and cholera are ascribed to the leadership of Mugabe by those opposed to his regime and to the interference of Western governments by the regime itself. But despite Zimbabwe’s well documented shortcomings there is still much to recommend this southern African nation to would-be expats.

The natural beauty of a country whose borders are formed by the mighty Zambezi and Limpopo rivers; which contains the 108 metre-high Victoria Falls; and which provides a home to savannah-dwelling elephants, buffalo, leopards, lions, rhinos, antelopes, zebras and giraffes (among countless other species), is staggering. Zimbabwe has the highest adult literacy rate in Africa - over 90% - and eleven internationally accredited universities. While economic growth remains elusive there are opportunities for expats in the growing platinum and diamond mining industries as well as in the country’s capital and economic hub of Harare. Contrary to some reports the health system is still functioning and excellent private care is available.

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The country’s greatest asset though remains its people. A welcoming smile is never far away, even in the poorest area. The predominantly Christian, Bantu-speaking population are always up for sharing local dishes (often stewed meats with accompaniments of greens and rice or potatoes), celebrations which often involve barbecuing a goat or cow, and the enjoyment of sporting events, among which football is the most popular.