I visited Bulawayo in January for the first time in many years. It is perhaps because I was so out of touch with the city that it took me by surprise. It has been a long while since I’ve been to a place that has reeled back in time; things that used to be there were not.

One is bank lending: when the formal economy has disappeared, there is no way to guess whether debtors can service their loans. And so debt markets collapse. Houses in the Bulawayo suburbs are bought with cash. I met an estate agent whose greatest concern was orchestrating the moment of sale; how does one safely transport $150,000 across town? ..

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