Independence Day marked

HARARE (AP): Celebrating Independence Day for the first time without Robert Mugabe as leader since 1980 felt like a second emancipation for some Zimbabweans on Wednesday. For others, not quite.

The southern African nation still faces persistent economic problems including cash shortages and high unemployment. Major public hospitals have been shut down after the government fired more than 16,000 nurses for striking against low salaries and poor working conditions. As the first post-Mugabe elections approach in the months ahead, some found hope. Others expressed relief that for the first time since the end of white minority rule in 1980, Independence Day was free from Mugabe’s often vitriolic speech against Western rivals and local opposition. “Besides celebrating independence I am also celebrating a new era. We are seeing change,” 32-year-old John Kufa told The Associated Press outside the main stadium in the capital, Harare.