June 19, 2024

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What’s your money worth? A series from the front line of the cost of living crisis, where people who have been hit hard share their monthly expenses.

Name: Unity Gope

Age: 41

Occupation: Hawker

Lives with: Her four sons, Terence (24), Abraham (22), Takudzwa (15) and Tinodaishe (4)

Lives in: A small two-room home in Dzivarasekwa, a low-income neighbourhood and one of the oldest suburbs of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. The unpainted cottage is on a plot Unity bought with her late husband with the intention to build a house. They managed to erect a foundation, slab and some walls, but after his death earlier this year, she can no longer afford the construction costs so the house remains unfinished.

Monthly household income: Unity’s total monthly income from her market stall ranges between $350 and $550. It lessens during times of low economic activity, such as before Zimbabwe’s elections in August 2023. Elections are usually marred by violence, disputes over results and low spending patterns as people preserve cash in the event of post-vote uncertainty. Even now, weeks after the election, traders say business has not yet picked up.

Total expenses for the month: $685

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