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Jury Still Out As To Whether 2007 Was A Political Watershed For Zimbabwe

The year 2007 could go down as one of the most trying and at the same time one of the most important in political terms since Zimbabwe became independent in 1980.

Organizations that monitor human rights violations saw a massive surge in abuses during and after a March confrontation between the opposition and authorities.

But the clashes prompted the Southern African Development Community to sponsor crisis-resolution talks which have raised hopes of further progress in 2008

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reviewed events.

Among other developments, 2007 brought passage of a constitutional amendment that moved with bipartisan support through parliament to signature by President Robert Mugabe, providing for synchronized presidential, general and local elections.

Independent observers and civic activists say troubling questions remain about the potential for free and fair elections and the political environment in general.

Skeptics and government critics say recent amendments to the Public Order and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Broadcasting Services Act and the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, did not go far enough to ensure that if elections are held in 2008 as planned they will be free and fair.

Carole Gombakomba looked at what some hope will be a watershed election year.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...