Tsvangirai's 100 days in office

Food in the shops and teachers in schools, but Zimbabwe is a long way off recovery.


    Mugabe [left] and Tsvangirai finally agreed on appointees to a joint cabinet in February, 2009 [EPA]

    It has been 100 days since Morgan Tsvangirai joined his old rival Robert Mugabe in the formation of a new coalition government for Zimbabwe.

    With Tsvangirai taking the office of prime minister and Mugabe as president the hope was to try and revive the ruined southern African country whose economy had been crippled by record-breaking hyper inflation and years of bad economic policies.

    It has been a century of days fraught with mistrust.

    However, on Thursday Tsvangirai said most disagreements within Zimbabwe's power-sharing government had been resolved. The only sticking points were the posts of central bank governor and attorney general.

    Gideon Gono, the current governor of the central bank and a close Mugabe ally, has been under pressure to resign after members of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change accused him of being responsible for Zimbabwe's economic decline.

    The country needs just over US$8bn - close to US$2bn has already come in from African banks and governments, but much more is needed.

    Economic reforms

    The IMF and World Bank have also pledged support, but they want Mugabe and Tsvangirai to develop a credible programme to rebuild the country's economy and implement reforms before they hand out massive amounts of cash.

    On the streets, life seems a little easier for Zimbabweans – better than it was three months ago. Supermarket shelves are once again stocked with goods – and prices of basic commodities are slowly coming down.

    Teachers and civil servants are being paid a monthly allowance of US$100. Not nearly enough to live on, but it’s better than the Zimbabwean dollar they used to earn – which had become so devalued they could not buy anything with it.

    This allowance has given some incentives for civil servants to return to work. Most public schools are open, as teachers begin to return to the classroom.

    Headteacher Augustine Kudzange blames the government for poor teaching resources
    In the last two years, 20,000 teachers left the country – unable to get by on a monthly salary of US$3.

    At St Vincent Secondary school in rural Goromonzi, 60km from Harare, school principal Augustine Kudzange is struggling to make ends meet.

    He points the finger of blame at the country's politicians.

    "The English they speak in parliament and whatever professions they have – pass through my hands. Why can't they respect that?" he asks angrily.

    "If they are to respect the future of the child then the one who produces the child – education-wise - must be respected. There's no other way."

    He may be back in the classroom teaching but conditions are far from desirable.

    In some schools in the country, 15 children share one text book. In others there are simply no books at all.

    'Fragile situation'

    The country's education minister, David Coltart, says he needs millions of dollars to revive the education sector – which a decade ago used to be one of the best in Africa and the world.

    But he admits 100 days in office is too short to make any real changes to education policy and educational reform.

    "I can't really point to any major achievements," he says.

    "Some would say the reopening of schools and getting teachers back on board is an achievement. But I know it's a very fragile situation. I fear teachers may go on strike within a month or so. So I'm pleased but I believe we still have major challenges ahead."

    Some of those challenges facing the new prime minister include keeping the government of national unity together.

    Press freedom and alleged human rights violations dominate Zimbabwe's political life.

    Several journalists, lawyers and human rights activists complain of being harassed by state police.

    Farm invasions are still continuing in some parts of the country - threatening food security.

    Issues like educating the future generation come, for the moment, a poor second.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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