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Pessimism And Hope For Zimbabwe Mingle In Forecasts For 2008

As the year 2008 begins, many Zimbabweans are wondering whether it will bring any significant changes on the political, economic and human rights fronts.

With South African-brokered crisis resolution talks between the ruling party and opposition stalled, observers say the results of the negotiations so far do not suggest they have created a level playing field for national elections slated for March.

Human rights activists, health authorities, labor organizers and economists expressed pessimism that the problems which plagued Zimbabwe in 2007 will be resolved in 2008, given the policy failures they say have plunged the nation into turmoil.

To consider the outlook for 2008, reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with Norman Mlambo, an analyst with the Africa Institute of South Africa in Pretoria, who expressed optimism that the Southern African Development Community process could pay off in a free and fair election this year.

But human rights lawyer Irene Petras said that if the situation is to get better this year, a complete overhaul of the country's electoral framework and policies is needed.

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