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Zimbabweans Look Back At A Lost Decade, Hope For Better Prospects Next Year

During the past decade Zimbabweans witnessed a constant, escalating political crisis, economic contraction and collapse, social deterioration and deadly epidemics, and massive emigration

Some Zimbabweans are calling the 10-year period through 2009 a lost decade in which political crisis, economic collapse, social deterioration and emigration drained the country of its energy, wealth, population and happiness, as VOA Studio 7 correspondent Thabang Mathebula reported from Bulawayo.

For a broader persepective on the year coming to an end and the year ahead, reporter Sandra Nyaira turned to economist Godfrey Kanyenze, director of the Labor and Economic Development Institute of Zimbabwe and Tawanda Dube, a middle manager in a manufacturing firm in Harare, the capital.

Kanyenze said Zimbabwe can only consolidate and build on the gains of 2009 if the unity government launched last February implements in full the 2008 Global Political Agreement for power sharing.

The political instability which characterized Zimbabwe since the formation of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in 1999 in particular, surged dramatically during the 2008 election period when the MDC won control of parliament but its leader Morgan Tsvangirai failed to claim the presidency as the Electoral Commission found he had not achieved a majority.

Tsvangirai pulled out of the resulting runoff with President Robert Mugabe over increasingly deadly political violence mainly targeting his formation of the MDC, and Mr. Mugabe's subsequent victory was hollow as the West and a few African countries declared his election illegitimate.

Negotiations that followed led to the signature of a Global Political Agreement for power sharing and the formation of a national unity government under Mr. Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara of a smaller MDC formation that broke away in 2005.

Following the formation of the government international donors stepped up humanitarian intervention to counter a major cholera epidemic and widespread hunger. The economy has also improved with hyperinflation quelled by the adoption of a multiple hard currency monetary regimen, which has also increased the availability of imported and locally made goods.

But the United States and Europe have insisted on full implementation of the Global Political Agreement and the enshrinement of human rights and the rule of law before they will provide large-scale development assistance needed to fully stabilize the economy and rebuild dilapidated infrastructure.