AP Photos: Harare bustles as people cope with challenges

AP Photos: As controversy continues around the burial of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, the capital, Harare, bustles with people coping with the challenges of daily life amid widespread shortages

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Girls carrying buckets of water on their heads, people praying at sunset, children in uniforms going to their first day of the new school term.

As controversy swirled around the mourning period and burial for former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, most people in the capital Harare were busy coping with the challenges of daily life, amid shortages of electricity, water, fuel and cash.

The shortages are the latest symptoms of Zimbabwe's economic decline that began in 2000 when Mugabe launched the seizures of farms owned by whites. The chaotic, often violent confiscations triggered a collapse of the once productive agricultural sector and began a downward economic spiral. Further mismanagement brought about hyperinflation reaching more than 1 billion percent in 2009, which was only halted when the country abandoned its currency for the U.S. dollar.

Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, a city of 1.5 million, bustles with activities of people scraping by, including street traders selling second-hand clothes, people striding to work past faded murals of Mugabe and women carrying baskets of laundry they had just washed in a muddy creek.

But life in the capital is not all work. Children play on swings and unemployed young men wile away their time playing pool and drinking potent, and illegal, home brew.

Harare once enjoyed a reputation for being a city with lights on all night. But with widespread power cuts lasting 19 hours per day, residents find themselves living like rural famers, getting up at dawn and going to bed at dark.