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Zimbabwe and the USA

10 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 17 October 2012

Owen Bennett Jones introduces personal stories, analysis and wit from correspondents worldwide. In this edition:

"We're optimists - almost to a fault"

Since 2009, Zimbabwe has seen a most unlikely coalition of the real powers in the land - President Mugabe’s ZANU PF and the battered and harried opposition, the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai. Many analysts said a government consisting of such disparate elements could never survive more than a few weeks. But in fact it’s staggered through four years and looks like lasting until the next election.

Andrew Harding recently revisited Harare for the first time in months - and found surprising economic resilience as well as enduring caginess about speaking out about politics. People here are still nervous about the prospect of new violence before any elections. But how did the ruling coalition manage to defy political gravity for so long?

Lights, camera... clothes, hair, makeup...

The famous American newscaster, Walter Cronkite, used to end his bulletins with: “and that’s the way it is”. His successor Dan Rather went for the rather more modest and perhaps more realistic: “that’s part of our world tonight”. And the great Edward R Murrow? “Good night and good luck.” We mention all this because the BBC’s very own Laura Trevelyan has recently undergone a rebirth as a TV news anchor - something of a revered position in America.

It was an exacting process, with every possible aspect of her appearance subject to some brutally frank suggestions. All she now needs to come up with now is her own catchphrase to match.

(Image: Laura Trevelyan's new look)


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