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As Zimbabwe Unity Government Approaches 100 Days, Some See Few Gains

With Zimbabwe's inclusive government soon to mark 100 days from its inception in February and with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai launching a new 100 day program, observers are starting to assess whether power sharing has been a success or not. Some conclude that the gains of the so-called all-inclusive government have been limited and are tenuous.

Mr. Tsvangirai in recent days has pointed to the accomplishments of his government: ending hyperinflation through the adoption of a mix of hard currencies, abandoning the Zimbabwe dollar; reopening schools and hospitals; providing civil servants with small amounts of hard currency if not a living wage; reaching out to the international community; and most of all raising more than US$1 billion from African partners to begin reconstruction.

Observers note a lack of progress in the political sphere where Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change faces stiff resistance from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF, or at least its substantial hardline faction. Tsvangirai himself this week chided “residual elements” of President Mugabe's former ZANU-PF government for resisting his reform initiatives.

Talks on resolving outstanding issues facing the government have not yielded much so far in spite of repeated negotiating sessions, and President Mugabe seems unlikely to compromise on his late-2008 reappointments of Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana, whatever other concessions he might make.

For perspective on the gains and setbacks of the unity government, reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Farai Maguwu, director of the Center for Research and Development in the eastern border city of Mutare, and Dennis Nikisi, director of the Graduate School of Management at the University of Zimbabwe in Harare.

Both said they have seen little substantive change in Zimbabwe so far.

Maguwu commented that the country continues to face most of the same challenges it did before the unity government was formed, and that meanwhile President Mugabe remains very much in control and resistant to real political and economic reform.

Depending on whether one counts from Feb. 11, the day Mr. Tsvangirai was sworn in, Feb. 13, when the cabinet was formed, the unity government's 100-day mark falls on Friday, May 22, or Sunday, May 24. The government itself will mark the event on May 22.

More reports from VOA's Studio Seven for Zimbabwe...