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Zimbabwe's Inclusive Government Celebrates Independence Anniversary


President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai attended Independence Day celebrations together for the first time. Most of the spectators who showed up for the celebrations seemed to be supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change.

The 60,000-seat national stadium was half full and there were cheers whenever the screens showed Mr. Tsvangirai sitting in the VIP tent.

The few who cheered when the screen turned onto Mr. Mugabe's face were a large group of women from the Apostolic Church, traditional supporters of ZANU-PF.

Before the celebrations began, new finance minister Tendai Biti said there had been progress since the inclusive government was sworn in this past February.

He said civil servants were now receiving wages and that Zimbabwe's hyperinflation had disappeared. He also said there were what he called "toxic" areas within the new administraton which depended on Mr. Mugabe for resolution. He said many democracy issues remained outstanding such as new media and writing a new constitution.

"There are areas where we are not performing," he said. "There should be no reason why people should still be going to farms and invading farms and to do so when we are about to plant the winter crop, about to plant wheat, its a problem this is sabotaging the inclusive government. There are certain points we have scored. There is peace in Zimbabwe. You can wake knowing no junta, no fascists no militia is going to burn your house. I am appealing to our leaders to clear the toxic issues. A lot of this rests with President Mugabe to stop all these things that debrand Zimbabwe. We are trying to rebrand Zimbabwe, build a new Zimbabwe."

ZANU-PF minister responsible for gender, Olivia Muchena, said Zimbabwe's inclusive government had made achievments. Before it was established she said the country reached what she called ground zero when the Zimbabwe dollar plunged so far it had no value.

"We have gone through a period of a depression, things were not settled, things were not stable, and we went through a period when there was no government and it was necessary to restore the vibrancy Zimbabweans are known for," she said. "We have been in government for slightly more than one month, one month, government is not instant coffee."

When he spoke, President Mugabe did not blame the west for Zimbabwe's collapse and said everyone wanted sanctions, which are largely travel bans, on ZANU-PF elite, removed.

"This year independence celebrations are indeed unique because it gives us the opportunity to celebrate as one united and peaceful family," he said. "We may hold different beliefs [but] the liberation of our country should be an achievement that we all cherish nationally."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Zimbabwe's unity government on the 29th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence from Britain saying the transitional government has made progress toward reforms that will benefit the country's people.

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