Zimbabwe is in the grip of its worst economic upheaval in more than a decade, with widespread shortages of fuel, food, and money across the country. As a result, suppliers are rationing their stocks to avoid people from hoarding items. Some supermarket shelves are bare of food and other goods.
Credit and debit cards are being refused in some places, with the US dollar being more widely accepted, including at medical clinics where you have to pay upfront. The price of medication has also increased.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government have placed e a 2% tax on money transfers above US$10, payments by phone or bank, in an attempt to bring funds back into the economy. The new tax came into effect on October 1 and there has been a notable backlash against it with an increase in protests and crime across the country, particularly in the capital, Harare.
Victoria Falls has fuel shortages, impacting local game safari operations and transfers to and from the airport. Medications are out of stock at the two local pharmacies.
Travelers are advised to consider their options and be prepared before traveling to/around in the country.
An outbreak of cholera was first detected and reported in Zimbabwe in early September, with 25 infected people admitted to hospital in Harare. This has since risen to thousands infected and 50 people have lost their lives to the disease. A local vaccination drive was established at the beginning of October, hoping to stem the ongoing outbreak in the country. This insidious disease has returned after a decade-long absence, largely due to Zimbabwe's decaying infrastructure and poor sanitation. In 2008, more than 1500 people were infected and at least 10 people lost their lives to cholera.
Typhoid has also ravaged the Zimbabwean capital, Harare. Initially reported to the World Health Organisation at the beginning of September, there are over 3000 reported cases including several in four other provinces. ~10 people have lost their lives to the disease. Zimbabwe's decaying infrastructure and poor sanitation have contributed to the spread of typhoid in the country. NGO's are working in the affected areas to educate locals about the disease while providing water treatment and other services.
There are reports of post-election unrest and violence occurring in central Harare after national elections, with opposition party supporters clashing with police and military. ZANU-PF (The party Mugabe led) was elected with a majority win, sparking protests. Three people are dead and the Public Security Order Act has been invoked by the police. Live ammunition has been used to disperse protestors.
If you find yourself inadvertently caught up, calmly move away move away from the protest. If you do need to approach police for help, do it with caution and remain calm. Identify yourself with your passport or identification so they know you are a visitor. Follow instructions from the authorities, and keep updated with local news in areas affected by political unrest.
Make contact with your country's embassy, as well as your family, so your last known location is recorded should communications break down.
Zimbabwe’s military said early today that it had taken custody of President Robert Mugabe and was "targeting criminals" around the president. They are denying that this is a military takeover - however, tanks have been stationed around key government buildings in Harare.
The US and Britain have advised their citizens in Harare to stay indoors because of "political uncertainty." Travelers in the region should monitor the situation closely, and check with the state departments or embassies of their country of residence for the latest advice and warnings.
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Southern Africa compared to other parts of the continent is relatively safe and peaceful, but Zimbabwe has hard a dark past over the last few decades, and the turmoil isn't over.