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Stabilization But Limited Gains in Zimbabwe Unity Government's First Year - Analysts

Zimbabweans are better off, but hopes for a political transformation have been dashed with the governing parties mired in discord over the terms of power sharing and mutual recriminations.

One year after former Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister of a national unity government, sharing power with President Robert Mugabe, observers say the so-called inclusive government is deeply troubled with its partners already mooting new elections in 2011.

On the other hand, few were optimistic last February on the life expectancy of the unity government put in place to resolve a profound political crisis in the wake of national elections in 2008 that were marred by deadly violence and a presidential runoff that returned Mr. Mugabe to power amid international outrage and questions as to the legitimacy of his new administration.

And 12 months later Zimbabweans are generally better off, most agree. When the unity government was formed a year ago this week cholera was ravaging the country, eventually claiming more than 4,200 lives, and many were going hungry with staples such as maize meal and bread unavailable or out of reach for most ordinary families. Hyperinflation devoured wages and savings.

All the same, hopes for a political transformation have been dashed with the co-governing parties mired in discord over implementation of the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing, and mutual recriminations.

Elections are widely anticipated in 2011 – but Zimbabwe must first make a new constitution, a process that heightens the risk of clashes.

For a look at Zimbabwe's political landscape one year after the inception of the power-sharing government, VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo spoke with former lawmaker Abednico Bhebhe and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition programs manager Pedzisai Ruhanya, who agreed there's not much cause for celebration with ZANU-PF and the MDC now at daggers drawn.

In South Africa, meanwhile, Zimbabwean expatriates joined nationals of the Rainbow nation in marking the 20th anniversary former President Nelson Mandela's 1990 release from prison after 27 years in detention, and celebrating his subsequent transformative leadership. But most diasporans saw little to be happy about on the anniversary of the power sharing Harare government, which those in exile generally regard as a disappointment.

VOA Studio 7 correspondent Benedict Nhlapho reported from Johannesburg.