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Little Progress Seen by Zimbabweans a Month After Power-Sharing Agreement

Exactly a month after Zimbabwe's power sharing agreement was signed, the signatories are still bickering over Cabinet posts. Tendai Maphosa took to the streets of Harare for VOA to hear what the people think about the deal, which represented some hope for their country.

Supporters of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party and opposition Movement for Democratic Change MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai were in high spirits outside the venue where it was sealed on September 15.

"It is positive as far as I am concerned, any type of agreement is a step forward for a new beginning, rebuilding the nation, putting the past behind us and working together," said one supporter.

A ruling ZANU-PF party supporter said he did not mind President Robert Mugabe ceding some of his power to Mr. Tsvangirai.

"I think he is giving up his power so that they can make a deal together so the country can prosper," he said.

But as the talks to form a government drag on and life gets harder by the day in Zimbabwe, people are beginning to feel that September 15 might have been a false dawn.

"I had hope when they agreed to meet and discuss issues but as for now, I no longer have any hope," said one woman.

"People are even more angry now, they are even thinking that maybe there should be elections so that they can elect a new government which may be able to deliver," said one man.

Despite their suffering, most of those VOA spoke to say Mr. Mugabe should not have unilaterally allocated all the key ministries to his party. They say Mr. Tsvangirai should stand his ground, especially on the heavily contested Ministry of Finance.

"Mugabe does not have international friendships. If he gets those ministries we are not going to get any change here in Zimbabwe, so I think that is a proper decision that Tsvangirai is making," said one woman.

Another woman said, "Finance has to go to MDC because ZANU has proved that they cannot control the money sector. It is abuse, corruption by ministers, and [Gideon] Gono as our [central bank] governor is the number one culprit."

While the parties have been blaming each other for the failure to agree on cabinet posts, this elderly Zimbabwean says it is the people around Mr. Mugabe who are sabotaging the deal.

"I do not think the president has a problem," he said. "The problem is some of his colleagues who do not want to leave their ministries. These are the people who are hindering progress."

The people may be getting a bit pessimistic about the deal working out, but an opposition MDC official who spoke to VOA on condition of anonymity sounded cautiously optimistic. The government-controlled Herald daily newspaper also spoke of progress on the first day of talks to break the deadlock chaired by mediator Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president.