Information & Facts
Business in Zimbabwe is conducted in English, and is fairly
informal, with drinking and socialising very much part of the
business scene. Dress is fairly conservative, but lightweight suits
or casual jackets are more suited to the hot climate than formal
business wear. It is customary to shake hands with men and women at
the beginning and end of a meeting. Business hours are generally
Monday to Friday 8am to 4.30pm, although hours vary considerably
depending on the establishment; some businesses close at 11am on
Wednesdays, and some are open on Saturday mornings.
Zimbabwe has a sub-tropical climate with a summer season of
about eight months (October to April), with hot, sunny days the
norm. Summer daytime temperatures range around 86ºF (30ºC) in the
main centres, though the low-lying areas such as the Zambezi
Valley, Kariba and Victoria Falls tend to be hotter, and there is
always a possibility of an afternoon thunderstorm. The Zimbabwean
winter climate is pleasant, with warm, dry days from June to August
(though temperatures do drop more extremely at night) and the
average temperature is around 68ºF (20ºC). Rain occurs mostly
between November and March (summer), though throughout most of the
year, the Eastern Highlands experiences rain with an average
precipitation of about 1,020 mm (40 inches). Best Game viewing time
is during the months of August, September and October: this is the
dry season when animals congregate at the waterholes. The best time
of the year for white water rafting on the Zambezi is September,
October and November.
The international dialling code for Zimbabwe is +263. The
outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g.
0027 for South Africa). International Direct Dialling is available.
City/area codes are in use, e.g. (0)4 for Harare. Telecel, Econet
and Net*One operators provide GSM 900 network mobile phone coverage
in most cities, towns and tourist areas throughout the country.
Internet and email facilities are available in most towns and
cities Harare, but internet cafes are generally crowded.
In Zimbabwe it is against the law to take photographs of public
buildings or government institutions, and it is not advisable to
take photographs anywhere in the vicinity of such buildings, or any
roadblocks and illegally occupied farms, as this could lead to
arrest. It is also illegal to take photographs of police and
military, as well as of demonstrations. It is a criminal offence to
make insulting comments about President Mugabe and his government.
It is also an offence to continue driving when the President's
motorcade goes past, no matter which side of the road you are on.
Visitors should be aware that an open hand is the political symbol
of the main opposition political party, the Movement for Democratic
Change, and a friendly wave may therefore be misinterpreted as a
provocative gesture. Homosexuality is illegal. Civilians are not
permitted to wear camouflage clothing.
Travellers to Zimbabwe do not have to pay duty on items to the
value of US$250 provided this allowance is not claimed more than
once in a 30-day period. These include goods for personal
consumption, including tobacco, and alcohol up to 5 litres with no
more than 2 litres of this being spirits. Prohibited items include
narcotic and amphetamine drugs, honey, indecent or obscene reading
material, toy firearms, and blade knives.
Electrical current in Zimbabwe is 220 volts, 50Hz.
Three rectangular blade plugs are common.
Travellers to Zimbabwe who are coming from infected countries
require a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Precautions against
Hepatitis A, and rabies are also recommended. Other risks include
typhoid, polio and bilharzia; a high prevalence of AIDS/HIV exists.
There is a risk of malaria all year in most of the country,
particularly in the Zambezi Valley, Victoria Falls, Hwange National
Park and in the Eastern Highlands; the risk is very small in Harare
and Bulawayo. Mosquitoes are chloroquine resistant. Precautions
against mosquito bites should be taken to avoid any number of
mosquito-borne diseases. Cholera outbreaks occur usually during the
rainy season when flooding and contamination of water sources takes
place. Rapidly declining health standards are also responsible for
the world's lowest life expectancy according to WHO, and a
breakdown in the water distribution system, especially in Harare.
Visitors are advised to take food and hygiene precautions. The
standard of tap water in urban areas is considered low, and bottled
water is available. The current economic instability has led to
shortages of medication in public hospitals, and many staff are on
strike; it is advisable to bring a supply of personal medication.
Medical insurance is essential. Private clinics expect cash payment
and medical costs can be high.
English is the official language in Zimbabwe, although it
is only spoken as a first language by a tiny percentage of the
population. Several indigenous languages are spoken including Shona
The official currency is the US dollar (USD). The Zimbabwe
dollar (ZWD) was effectively abandoned as the official curency in
early 2009. Major credit cards, including Visa and MasterCard, are
accepted in most of the larger hotels, restaurants and shops; Many
smaller establishments still do not have credit card facilities;
Diners Club and American Express are sometimes not accepted. ATM
facilities, dispensing US$, are available in the cities.
All visitors require tickets and documents for return or onward
journeys, as well as sufficient funds for their duration of stay.
Visa fees, where applicable, are payable in US dollars. It is
highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity
remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel
destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to
those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Safety in Zimbabwe remains unstable due to political and social
unrest, heightened by an economic crisis which has resulted in high
rates of unemployment and inflation, nationwide fuel shortages,
power cuts and serious shortages of basic foodstuffs. Many hotels
and restaurants are having difficulty finding food supplies, and
fuel shortages are causing delays and cancellations for public
transport and flights. There has been a dramatic increase in
criminal activity and opportunistic theft, particularly from
foreigners in Harare and in the main tourist centres, such as
Victoria Falls, and it is not advised to travel outside of those
areas unaccompanied. Tourists are advised to avoid displays of
wealth and valuables and passports should be kept out of sight or
preferably left in a hotel safe.
Local time in Zimbabwe is GMT +2.
A service charge is usually included in the bill in Zimbabwe,
otherwise a 10% tip is customary. In general tipping for good
service is discretionary. Tour guides and game rangers depend
largely on tips for their income and ranges from US$5 to US$10 per
person per day.