The Christmas lights are up in Zimbabwe’s capital but the mood is less than festive as the country grapples with an economic crisis that prevents many families from enjoying the holiday season.

Some people sleep in their cars in long lines for fuel because of a shortage of gasoline and diesel. Others get up before dawn to wait at banks to withdraw small amounts of cash.

Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst economic meltdown in a decade, reminding many of the days when inflation soared to more than 1 billion percent and the local currency was abandoned. Now there is such a shortage of U.S. dollars in circulation that many people are forced to tap the black market.

Zimbabweans had hoped that new President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who came to power last year when Robert Mugabe resigned under military pressure, would bring new economic growth. But today unemployed people still walk the streets of Harare.

A few men dress up as Santa in the stores, but very few shoppers bring their children to make Christmas wishes. Many simply hope to get by.

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In this photo taken on Friday Dec, 21, 2018, a family sleeps in the back of a truck while waiting in a fuel queue in Harare. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
In this photo taken on Friday Dec, 21, 2018, a family sleeps in the back of a truck while waiting in a fuel queue in Harare. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
In this photo taken on Friday Dec, 21, 2018, Santa Claus gives sweets to children at a shopping mall in Harare. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
In this photo taken on Friday Dec, 21, 2018, Santa Claus gives sweets to children at a shopping mall in Harare. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
In this photo taken on Friday Dec, 21, 2018, motorists take a nap while in a fuel queue in Harare. The Christmas lights are up in Zimbabwe's capital but the mood is less than festive as the country grapples with an economic crisis that prevents many families from enjoying the holiday season. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
In this photo taken on Friday Dec, 21, 2018, motorists take a nap while in a fuel queue in Harare. The Christmas lights are up in Zimbabwe’s capital but the mood is less than festive as the country grapples with an economic crisis that prevents many families from enjoying the holiday season. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
In this photo taken on Friday Dec, 21, 2018, Santa Claus is seen at a shopping mall in Harare. The Christmas lights are up in Zimbabwe's capital but the mood is less than festive as the country grapples with an economic crisis that prevents many families from enjoying the holiday season. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
In this photo taken on Friday Dec, 21, 2018, Santa Claus is seen at a shopping mall in Harare. The Christmas lights are up in Zimbabwe’s capital but the mood is less than festive as the country grapples with an economic crisis that prevents many families from enjoying the holiday season. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
In this photo taken on Friday Dec, 21, 2018, a picture of Santa Claus with a child and balloons is seen at a shopping mall in Harare. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
In this photo taken on Friday Dec, 21, 2018, a picture of Santa Claus with a child and balloons is seen at a shopping mall in Harare. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, a man walks past Christmas lights on the streets of Harare. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, a man walks past Christmas lights on the streets of Harare. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, a man begs on the streets of Harare. The Christmas lights are up in Zimbabwe's capital but the mood is less than festive as the country grapples with an economic crisis that prevents many families from enjoying the holiday season. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, a man begs on the streets of Harare. The Christmas lights are up in Zimbabwe’s capital but the mood is less than festive as the country grapples with an economic crisis that prevents many families from enjoying the holiday season. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Source: The Associated Press

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