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Currency Collapse and Middle-Class Livelihoods in Zimbabwe: The Case of Msasa Park Suburb in Harare

Tafadzwa Mambiravana, Elvin Shava and Constance Gunhidzirai


Published: 2022/03/01


The collapse of national currencies is a recurrent problem in emerging economies, caused by poor government policies, fiscal imbalances, trade deficits, and liquidity shortages among several other causes. Economic problems caused by currency collapse are devastating to different classes of people. This study sought to explore the aftermath of currency collapse on the middle class in Zimbabwe between 2009 and 2019, with a particular focus on Msasa Park suburb, a middle-class area in Harare. The study is ethnographic and premised on a qualitative research approach that triangulated in-depth interviews, focus group discussions (FGDs), and observations. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 30 participants for interviews and focus groups. These participants had deep knowledge regarding livelihoods and currency collapse in Zimbabwe. The findings of the study show that the collapse of the Zimbabwean dollar triggered severe economic challenges for the middle class including massive retrenchments, dwindling work opportunities, moonlighting, changes in consumption patterns, migration of skilled personnel to neighboring countries, severe shrinkage of wages and salaries, and loss of national feeling and identity. The study concludes that amid the rapid currency collapse associated with hyperinflation, many residents of Msasa Park lost their livelihoods, with some failing to recover. Key Words: Currency collapse, Livelihoods, Middle class, Informal economy, Entrepreneurship

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