Feature: Zimbabweans in Valentine’s spirits despite hardships

HARARE, Feb. 15 — Love is in the air in Harare as residents cast aside the feeling of dejection caused by the prevailing economic hardships and express love to their spouses and partners though gifts and flowers on Valentine’s Day.
Streets in the central business district are full of vendors selling different types of gifts such as flowers, cards, chinaware and teddy bears.
February is usually the dreaded month of the year by the unattached, while for those in love, it is one to celebrate their love and express appreciation for each other.
“Most people do not hesitate to fork out cash from their pockets for their loved ones on Valentine’s day,” said Kuzivakwashe Mumera who works in a floral shop.
Boutiques and shops that sell ladies outfits are full of goods embossed in red and white, including teddy bears which are selling for as much as 180 U.S. dollars.
Although some people have not yet recovered from the “January disease” when they get broke after over-spending during the festive season, many manage to surprise their loved ones with various “love potions.”
Casper Mutendi, 43, said although the beginning of the year was characterized by a lot of financial obligations such as children’s school fees and uniforms, he had managed to surprise his wife with a night out at a lodge in Vumba in Zimbabwe’s scenic Eastern Highlands.
“We are doing it big time this season,” he said. “This year is our 25th anniversary and I have decided to surprise my wife with a night in Vumba Mountains.”
His wife Rosina could not hide her excitement. “Valentine’s Day brings joy to those in love regardless of their age or their financial status,” she said.
Some business people took opportunity of the day to make cash by offering discounts and promotions to couples.
Alex Shu, a Chinese shop owner, was offering cash discounts to couples who bought anything above 20 dollars.
Patience Chibanda, a salesperson in a city shop, said they expected to exceed last year’s Valentine’s Day sales, although she would not give figures.
“Before the 14th most of our customers were youngsters. Married couples were here and there, but today we have seen a number of married couples,” she said.
Night clubs and cinemas are also offering special packages for lovers, especially for the youngsters.
The festive mood is remarkable as the country is slipping towards a recession, estimated to have recorded only 3.4 percent economic growth last year.
Many young people cannot find stable jobs as factories close down; while those who do have jobs, including government workers, wages are in some cases delayed by months.
Liquidity crunch is felt by both businesses and individuals as some cash-strapped local banks limited withdrawal before Christmas.
There are also people who do not think the Valentine’s day is in any way important.
“Who is this Saint Valentine? The devil is very clever and continues to deceive people. I do not believe in Valentine and I did not buy anything for my wife. I can spoil my wife any day of any month,” said Patrick Musonza.[db:内容2]

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