"Making a plan": responses amongst the wealthy to declining socioeconomic conditions in suburban Harare
Although the term "crisis" is often used to describe politico-economic conditions in post-2000 Zimbabwe, the period of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe was also accompanied by creative responses to declining socioeconomic conditions. In this paper, I consider the ways in which wealthy suburban Zimbabweans resident in Harare during this period dealt with the withdrawal of the state from some aspects of daily life: most notably, experienced through a decline in municipal services such as the provision of water and electricity. I argue that whilst poor urbanites experienced socioeconomic conditions as a decline in modernity even while they engaged in creative responses to those conditions, for wealthier (Black and White) urbanites the withdrawal of local government services led to a revival of ideas of innovation ("making a plan") that were similar to a pre-Independence discourse of self-reliance in the face of economic sanctions imposed in the 1970s. Ideas of self-sufficiency and innovation in the present day were invoked by both Black and White respondents, and can be read as partly rhetorical, given the realities of complex engagements and negotiations that occurred in Harare between residents and the municipality and state services. The innovation required to "make a plan" was always complexly social: although people could no longer rely on local government for services, they were forced by the erratic nature of service delivery to rely upon one another, and to engage with municipal institutions and local government structures in ways that had previously been unnecessary. Attempts to maintain a "proper" life in Harare involved creating forms of community amongst the wealthy, and connections between the wealthy and the state, that had not necessarily existed before the so-called crisis.