tagged black market, Chirundu, Mutare, petrol and Zimbabwe
We’re heading to Victoria Falls from Mozambique, and the most direct route is to cut straight through Zimbabwe. The situation in Zimbabwe is unfortunate, though, and we seriously considered driving hundreds of kilometers out of our way in order to avoid the country all together. Then we spoke to a few Zimbabweans, and they all reassured us that the country might be a mess, but that we would be safe. Inflation continues to rise, with a loaf of bread costing upto 50,000,000 Zim Dollars (or $5USD), and continued sanctions on Zimbabwe make daily life difficult which increases the need for a black market. Our planned route was to go from the eastern border of Mutare, drive through Harare(the capital), and exit Zimbabwe on the western border of Chirundu–the distance of 600kms.
The lack of fuel tends to be a problem for any road trip in Zimbabwe. When we entered the border, a Zimbabwean man informed us that there was no fuel in Harare, but they were hopeful the petrol trucks would arrive the next day. The shortage of fuel is typically for unleaded gas, not diesel. As you drive by the gas stations, they have a sign out front that says “diesel” and “petrol” with a “yes” or “no” next to it written in chalk.
A few hours later, when we arrived into Harare it appeared they did get their delivery of petrol, and Mike and I figured that meant the country had gas, so we kept driving. Then we took a wrong turn, and ended up adding another hour to our drive. By the time we had driven halfway through, I decided we should stop in Karoi to fill up. But there was no petrol in Karoi, except for the farmers. The attendant at the station suggested we try the black market. So, I asked where was it? A man seated next to her stood up, and voila! we were back in business. Rather than $1.40/L, we were charged $2.00/L. Most of the Zimbabweans prefer US Dollars, not Zim Dollars. We bought 50L.
From the petrol station, we drove this man into a back street of a neighborhood, where another car followed us that had a large plastic barrel of gas sitting in the back seat. They told us that all of the stores in town had closed down, there are no jobs left, and the only way to make any money is through the black market. They pay truck drivers to fill their second gas tank with petrol from a neighboring country. There is even a fixed price for black market gas, the man helping us was called by another black market to raise his price because he was undercutting his competition. This man sincerely wants a job where he knows he will earn a paycheck at the end of each week, but he’s not hopeful that will happen any time soon.