Zimbabwe lifts BBC ban

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Zimbabwe is lifting restrictions on the international media working inside its borders. This week it lifted an 8-year-ban on the BBC. The BBC's Andrew Harding reports from the capital Harare.

KATY CLARK: The government of Zimbabwe has placed restrictions on international reporters for years. Long-time leader, Robert Mugabe, accused the media of being biased against him. The BBC, which co-produces this program, hasn't been able to operate freely inside Zimbabwe for eight years. But last night the ban was lifted. It's the latest sign of change under a power-sharing government formed five months ago by Mugabe and the opposition. The BBC's Andrew Harding arrived in the capital, Harare, and found many changes.


ANDREW HARDING: Morning assembly at a run down state school in Harare. The headmaster, still nervous about giving his name to a reporter, describes how bad things got here during Zimbabwe's economic collapse.

HEADMASTER: Teachers, naturally feel [INDISCERNIBLE] to their duties because there was no food for their children. So, it took time for the children to realize that the situation is changed. It took some time for them to realize that things were coming back to normal.


ANDREW HARDING: And things are slowly becoming almost normal here. The school children back in their classes.

MALE STUDENT: I feel so happy. We came to school because we want to learn so that we can have a good future.

FEMALE STUDENT: The best thing is that we are now learning, and to improve our education.

FEMALE STUDENT 2: You know what? Education is the key to success, so we are happy that we can build our future.

ANDREW HARDING: On the streets outside, the same sense of cautious optimism. Now that we're not longer working undercover here, I'm quickly surrounded by an enthusiastic crowd.


ANDREW HARDING: Another sign of change. I'm invited to President Mugabe's stronghold.


ANDREW HARDING: His right hand man, John Nkomo, insisting that he's committed to sharing power in Zimbabwe's unity government.

JOHN NKOMO: Now only am I very close to President Mugabe, I've come a long way with President Mugabe. And there's one thing that I respect him for, is that he's a principled man. Once he agrees on a format, agrees on a program, he wants that program implemented. And so his commitment is unquestionable.

ANDREW HARDING: A few streets away, Prime Minster Morgan Changerai is also sounding positive.

MORGAN CHANGERAI: Welcome to Zimbabwe without having to sneak in the country like a tourist or other guys.

ANDREW HARDING: Behind the scenes there's still a power struggle going on in the unity government, but the prime minister is a man on a mission.

MORGAN CHANGERAI: The hard line as if come to accept that change is irreversible. And the fact that the political leaders have come out openly saying we want this to succeed in itself is a vote of confidence.

KATY CLARK: Zimbabwe's prime minister, Morgan Changerai, ending that report from the BBC's Andrew Harding in Harare.