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Civil Society Says Zimbabwe Unity Government Fell Short in Year One

The Civil Society Monitoring Mechanism said the unity government has failed to address critical issues including land use, justice and human rights, while the constitutional revision process has lagged

Bulawayo-based advocacy group Women of Zimbabwe Arise said in a report issued Friday that the unity government has not opened the democratic space because relatively few people are participating in politics and governance.

The WOZA report said President Robert Mugabe has retained substantial executive powers while the leaders of the two formations of the Movement for Democratic Change, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, are weak governing partners.

WOZA Co-Founder Jenni Williams said most of the 4,000 people polled on the current state of democracy in Zimbabwe also voiced concern about the lack of a political opposition to the uneasy coalition in power.

Respondents said the current political arrangement had stabilized the economy – but the gap between the rich and the poor was widening.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa offered a somewhat brighter view on the state of affairs in the country one year after the installation of the unity government, citing a marked decrease in the persecution of journalists.

But MISA-Zimbabwe said repressive laws like the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act remain in place.

MISA-Zimbabwe Chairman Loughty Dube told VOA Studio 7 reporter Brenda Moyo that there is a lack of commitment to media reform by all of the partners in the inclusive government.

Elsewhere, the Civil Society Monitoring Mechanism presented a report saying the unity government has failed to address critical issues including land, justice and human rights and progress in revising the constitution has been slow.

Civil Society Monitoring Mechanism Chairman Dzimbabwe Chimbga said the inclusive government has disappointed many Zimbabweans by failing to deal with issues that matter, including the selective application of justice, invasions of white-owned farms, and a slow constitutional revision process.

Chimbga said the government has not repealed repressive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act, while the government’s failure to liberalize the media, especially broadcasting, was another missed opportunity.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Director McDonald Lewanika said the unity government was a transitional device intended to move Zimbabwe towards democracy but that the process to date has been far too slow.

Defending the government, Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma said the power-sharing arrangement has given the Zimbabwean people relief from the deadly political violence seen in the 2008 election cycle.

Mangoma said all unity government parties agree fresh elections are needed.
He rejected charges that the MDC has jumped on the political gravy train.