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Economic Hard Times Makes for a Frugal Valentines Day in Zimbabwe


Financial constraints and political tensions have prevented Cupid's arrows from reaching some hearts of Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo. Several lovebirds blame their empty wallets for their inability to fully express their affections. Others say they are too anxious about the forthcoming national elections to spend time worrying about Valentine's Day, but a few romantics are determined to make the day special. Netsai Mlilo has the story.

Celebrating love has not caught on among several Bulawayo consumers. Some, like Malvern Nawa (who works as a clerk at a non-governmental organisation) say financial hardships made it impossible for them to enjoy Valentine's Day.

"I think it's unfair for us Zimbabweans," says Nawa," especially the guys because you're meant to be the man and you're meant to be able to show these things. Well, apparently you can't be a man in Zimbabwe, so I think it's difficult."

Nawa adds he's been spared the hassle of planning something special for his girlfriend, as she is away studying in Namibia.

At the same time Rodrick Fayayo says he's off the hook too as it's Leap Year, meaning it's now up to his other half to treat him. He says he's looking forward to being spoiled.

"On Valentine's Day, actually it's my wife who is taking me out she has promised to take me out. It's supposed to be a surprise so up to now I don't know what she is going to do for me," he says.

But political activist Zenzele Ndebele explains he's put Valentine's Day celebrations on hold because he doesn't have money to do anything special for his girlfriend. That's not the only reason, however. Ndebele says he's is concentrating on encouraging youths to go out and vote in next month's elections...

"What I can say to young people is 'can you for this year stop this Valentines business and go and check your names that you registered and on the 29th of March, go and vote. And, then you can have Valentines every day, because you will be having money in your pocket.' "

Ndebele adds recurring blackouts have taken the novelty out of candlelit dinners, as he uses candles during most evenings.

But Shamiso Matema -- who works as a secretary in the city centre -- says she still believes love can conquer all. The incurable romantic says she's been saving up for the three months, in order to take her boyfriend out for dinner...

"Yes I still believe in love," she says. "It's now difficult socially, economically it's difficult to get money, it's difficult to find basic food commodities but we still need love, love keeps us going."

Additionally, Matema says part of her savings will go towards a new outfit and hairdo so she looks spectacular when whispering those magical three little words.

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