BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2008, 10:54 GMT
From Harare: Campaigning starts
Harare skyline [Pic: Robyn Hunter]

Esther (not her real name), 28, a professional living and working in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, is writing a diary on the challenges of getting through each day.

Zimbabwe is suffering from an acute economic crisis. The country has the world's highest rate of annual inflation - and just one in five has an official job.

Election rallies have started ahead of the 29 March elections and campaign posters are being posted.

This is the most exciting election we've had in a while.

There are three major contenders - Robert Mugabe, Simba Makoni and the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai - any of whom could easily win the presidency in "a free and fair election".

I saw three guys pasting MDC posters on a wall on my journey from work last Friday.

I also saw a tree trunk with a Zanu-PF and an MDC poster one above the other, while right in the city centre there were some bright yellow posters for Dr Makoni.

A Simba Makoni supporter in Mutoko, Zimbabwe
Simba Makoni's campaign has added excitement to this election
It has started up the whole debate about Dr Simba Makoni all over again - we had this raging debate at work during our tea break last week.

Is he still loyal to the ruling party? What is his real agenda?

Will he impose his own politicians on the people, since he has given us none to vote for?

Or will he bow out at the last minute, as others have done in the past?

Why does he not form an alliance with the MDC as that would almost certainly guarantee victory for them both?

OK maybe it would be a shared victory, but it would be a victory nonetheless.

Back pay

The armed forces recently got a hefty pay rise. Any pay rises for civil servants and armed forces is instant news, I don't know how but at the end of the day, the whole nation knows.

I was teasing my cousin, who is a soldier, about his new wealth and he showed me his pay slip.

The money is in fact 80% back pay, so he won't get even half of this money next month.

But most people don't know this and now it seems everyone wants a piece of the cake.

Teachers are on strike and colleagues say their children are going to school only to be told that their teacher is "unwell" and to please return home.

Municipal workers have also downed their tools.

Some simply call in to say they have no bus fare to come to work, and it is probably true.

Bus fares have quadrupled in the last three weeks, in line with the unofficial market rate.

We were paying Z$2m-Z$3m for a single fare mid February, now it's anything from Z$7m-Z$10m depending on the distance.


On Monday, I saw a woman relieving herself outside a locked public toilet (it was locked due to the strike).

To say I was disgusted is an understatement.

It was in broad daylight, at a combi (minibus taxi) rank.

She was not even the first one to do this, she had to jump over heaps of faeces to get to a 'clean spot'.

I was not the only one disturbed by this, all the passengers were.

One woman was asking what would happen when it rained (it was threatening to) and the effluent was washed onto the streets.

Is this what we have come to?

Last week I was talking about a woman at a hospital in Harare (where my mother works) who was suffering from a complicated labour. Her uterus had ruptured.

Well the fantastic news is that the woman survived, and got her uterus sutured. My mother says it is a miracle, and it has cheered me up no end.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific