Channel 4’s Jon Snow was thrown out of Zimbabwe in the eighties. With Mugabe out of power, Snow is back.

Snow who is married to a Zimbabwean renowned academic, Precious Lunga wrote :”For where once arriving at Harare Airport as a foreign correspondent was a nail-biting experience, these days the sparsely populated arrivals hall is ordered and relaxed. Flights are equally sparse and rarely full. But it’s here that the country’s biggest immediate crisis becomes apparent.

An entry visa costs $55. But does anyone have the $5 that the immigration officer needs to give change for the $60 proffered by the passenger in front of me? Someone in the queue finally produces some change. The dollarization of the currency a decade ago has proved a disaster. The introduction of the ‘Bond’ note to make up for lack of dollars has been no solution either. Having started at parity, it now trades at anything up to 1 Bond 50 cents for the dollar. You feel the consequences everywhere you go.

But these days, spirits in Zimbabwe are high. The old despot is gone, and that alone has raised hope. The fact that a lot of his old muckers are still around seems to do little to weaken it. Some of Mugabe’s old cronies are in post but no longer in power.

The whole country appears to accept that power will flow only once ‘free and fair’ elections are held. Where once police set road blocks at intervals all over the country as a means of political control and providing themselves with pocket money, today there are none to be seen – to the palpable relief of the people. Today in the cities – Harare, and Bulawayo – once again you suddenly notice police officers holding up the normally wayward traffic to escort children across once ignored crossings to school.

Mugabe’s removal and getting rid of the road blocks have combined to add to the sense of freedom and wellbeing, even if the dire economic conditions are unchanged.