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Zimbabwe Accord Anniversary Marked


Tuesday is the first anniversary of the deal that brought about Zimbabwe's national unity government, known as the Global Political Agreement. Most Zimbabweans, who believed it would end years of political strife and suffering caused by a collapsing economy, welcomed the deal with much hope.

Twelve months ago, Zimbabwe's long-time ruler President Robert Mugabe; Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and, Arthur Mutambara, the leader of a splinter group of MDC, signed the Global Political Agreement, amidst much pomp and fanfare.

After the signing, it took another five months before the three leaders agreed on the formation of a government. Mr. Mugabe kept his job as president and Mr. Tsvangirai is now the prime minister.

But the parties are still wrangling over the full implementation of the agreement. Prime Minister Tsvangirai accuses Mr. Mugabe of making illegal appointments, stalling on other appointments and harassing and arresting his supporters. Media freedom, promised in the deal, has as yet to happen.

But the president argues he has met his end of the agreement.

But it is clear that some things in Zimbabwe are changing, albeit slowly. Shop shelves are packed with goods, schools and hospitals have re-opened and the Zimbabwe dollar has been replaced by hard currencies. This has led to some economic stabilization.

VOA asked some Zimbabweans if and how their lives have changed since the signature of the accord.

Rudo Chakanyuka is an artist. She is happy that food is finally available in the shops, although it can be expansive. She also feels there is more freedom in Zimbabwe now.

"I think most noticeable is the fact that we are a lot less fearful now of walking around and basically just being expressive of ourselves," said Chakanyuka. "I think there is a lot a lot less intimidation and tension in the air in the air. But, apart from that, I cannot really say much else has changed."

Businessman Khulekani Bruce Dzowa feels let down by the politicians.

"I think the excitement is now wearing off, regarding what was expected of the whole GPA. You got guys that were really optimistic about things beginning to happen, [but] I suppose one could give it to them for the fact that they have managed to bring about some form of stability, but, then again, the way forward is murky," said Dzowa.

Schoolteacher Charles Mumbwandarikwa was on strike at this time last year. Although teachers say their pay is still too low, he says he can now afford a few basics and he is back at work.

"The politicians should understand that the slow pace of implementation of the GPA is not a good thing," he said. "They should do what they agreed to do in time so that we move on. We have had a decade of our lives wasted and we do not want a day longer in that situation."

It does seem that, although some progress has been made during the past year, a lot still needs to be sorted out. The fear for most Zimbabweans is that the political bickering might lead to the national unity government unraveling. Nobody wants to go back to the way things were 12 months ago.

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