Music and food characterise festivities as Xmas cheer returns to Zimbabwe

For a long time since the country’s political crisis began in 2000, the festive season has passed without excitement.

Long-suffering Zimbabweans have until this year found nothing to celebrate about amid a plethora of problems highlighted by acute shortages of basic commodities and fuel, unprecedented unemployment and world-record inflation.

A refreshing new sense of optimism is in the air this year.

“We are toasting to the new hope that has been brought about by the formation of the inclusive government. This year’s Christmas is different because, for a change, we didn’t have to travel to South Africa or Botswana to buy groceries since everything we wanted was here,” said Harare resident Tatenda Mawisire.

Zimbabwean shops are teeming with local and imported products, thanks to an economic stabilisation programme introduced by a power-sharing government formed in February by President Robert Mugabe and long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai.

Another off-shoot of the new political dispensation is the stabilisation of prices since the launch of a multiple currency system at the beginning of the year.

Unlike in the past when prices changed hourly, the cost of basic commodities was more predictable this year – adding to the Christmas cheer.

Zimbabweans must shun corruption and embrace peaceful transition towards a pluralist and more tolerant society in 2010, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Friday.

In his first Christmas message since he was appointed as Zimbabwe’s premier last February, Tsvangirai called on Zimbabweans to work together to ensure the success of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), a power-sharing pact that paved the way for the formation of the coalition government.

“Each one of us has a role to play in building this future by abiding by the rule of law, shunning corruption and embracing the concept of peaceful transition within the framework laid out in the GPA,” Tsvangirai said.

He implored Zimbabweans to ensure that 2010 would be a year of consolidating gains made during the first 10 months of the coalition government.

“By working together we will set an example for the region and the world that will illustrate what can be achieved by a people united by their belief that democracy will deliver development and that peace will bring prosperity,” he said.

The coalition government has been rocked by internal power struggles between Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change and Zanu PF of President Robert Mugabe.

Hardline Zanu PF elements have been pushing for the collapse of the shaky government which they see as a threat to the system of political patronage and corruption that they had become accustomed to during the past decade. AP for additional reporting