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Zimbabweans Hopeful as Country Celebrates Independence Day


Zimbabwe celebrates Independence Day on Saturday and the former opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, now in the inclusive government with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF says it is going to attend the celebrations for the first time. There are mixed reactions to the first two months of the inclusive government and several key unresolved problems which continue to hamper progress.

For some, the establishment of a new government in February has been a boon. One woman, a teacher with three children living a high-density Harare suburb, says it was a welcome event.

"Myself being a teacher, the inclusive government has changed my life in the sense that we are now able to go to work," she said. "As soon as they agreed we began to go back to work based on the promises they gave us and it also gave light to my kids as well who had for the past seven months not being going to school, but now they are back."

Not everyone is confident

Another person, who works as TV and radio salesman, said the inclusive government has brought stability. Hyperinflation is gone and the Zimbabwe dollar has been replaced by the U.S. dollar and South African rand. The businessman says that means it is no longer necessary to go to the black market to buy hard currency to import goods to sell.

"The inclusive government brought some hope in our business," he said. "I am a businessman and we can now plan on a monthly basis and we could not do that in the past."

But he says, not everyone is confident that the new government is going to succeed in turning the economy around.

"Well, there is no confidence in the business sector like in the big people's business," he noted. "If these companies continue not having confidence in this government I don't think we will get anything."

Will inclusive government survive?

There are fears that the inclusive government may not survive.

Critics of Mr. Mugabe say his backers in the security services continue to arrest MDC supporters and officials, although they acknowledge in fewer cases.

There are also continued disruptions on white-owned farms and MDC deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara visited some Friday and called for a moratorium on disruptions of commercial farming.

Patience required

The teacher we spoke to in Harare, says change will take time.

"We are still feeling the pinch of the previous government and the life that the people have been living we are afraid if the inclusive government have arrangements or not work together we are afraid that maybe we will go back again to the same area where we couldn't even afford a decent meal a day," she said.

At independence day the MDC says it will turn out in large numbers and but will not wear party regalia as this is a national event.

Observers will be watching to see whether Mr. Mugabe's supporters turn out, given that the gathering will be attended by MDC party leader and new prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

So far the service chiefs who have declared they would not serve him, have manage to avoid saluting him at public events. Many will be watching Saturday's events for clues about how the government is getting along.

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