How to buy a house for less than half its price-  Two


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One of the proudest moments in my life was when we (my wife and I) bought our first house in Gweru in 1983.

This was the first tangible thing I really owned. At the time, I did not have a cow, goat or cat to my name.

I remember I had a few chickens that had been given to me by my grandmother. In a true sense, they were not really mine because I had not bought them. She just gave them to me so that when I visited her she could slaughter one of “my” chickens.

This was also meant to prevent her children from slaughtering her chickens at will as she could rightfully claim she had no chickens and they would have to ask me for one if they wanted one to slaughter.

I also had an old battered 1965 VW beetle that was more often off the road than on. I bought it for $450 from an elderly white who was skipping the country because the “communists” had taken over.

I remember at one time in 1980 while drinking at Chikwanha (Guzha Township) and to-and-froing between Chikwanha Hotel and Munyuki Night Club, with my friends, one old man, probably irritated by our showing off (as that was what it really was), saying:

“You know these young people, they may be running around in cars but they don’t have a house or even a cow at home ( in the communal lands).”

[It was true. I did not have a house or a cow then. I still do not have a cow but I now have two houses]

The unfortunate thing was that the old man forgot that he might want a lift to go home to Zengeza. When he asked me for a lift [he probably thought I had not heard his sarcastic remarks or I was too drunk to remember but I did] I rudely told him to go and ride his cows.

Anyway, that was the time. I was still young and a bachelor and had my ride to keep.

Back to the house. I had been a lodger all my working life and the life was rough. Although I was renting a full house from the National Railways of Zimbabwe at a very reasonable rent of $110 a month my main worry was that my lease was on a month-to-month basis. This meant I could be kicked out any time after a month’s notice.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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