Saturday, 27 December 2014

Looking at the year 2014 in retrospect

Edwin Mwase
IN just less than a week, the curtain closes on the year 2014. This was an eventful year which saw high political drama with the fall of a Vice President and 15 ministers, including deputies.

On the social and economic front, historical events were also recorded. The Sunday Mail recaps some of the significant events that grabbed media headlines during the course of the year.

There is a temptation to say that the fall from grace of former VP Dr Joice Mujuru and her unholy alliance was the top political story of the year. But then again, the rise of the First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe grabbed everyone’s attention. All eyes were on her as she entered Zanu-PF politics with her broom and made her mark.
Loking at the year 2014 in retrospect
It is the ascendency of Dr Mugabe that precipitated in the expos√© of Dr Mujuru’s gross incompetence, rampant corruption, undermining the authority of the President and abuse of office.

What followed was President Mugabe’s cracking of the whip on the Mujuru faction.

Despite having been in Government for decades, Dr Mujuru, former ministers Didymus Mutasa (Presidential Affairs), Nicholas Goche (Labour and Social Welfare) and Webster Shamu (ICT Postal and Courier Services), were sidelined after their sinister plot to unconstitutionally unseat the President was uncovered.

The Zanu-PF 6th National People’s Congress came and what a major success it was!

And then Cdes Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko were elevated to the Vice Presidency.

Furthermore, after the firing of the last pack of ministers and deputies last week, it is certain that as we go into 2015, President Mugabe will name new faces who will be part of his team tasked to accelerate the implementation of the economic blueprint – Zim-Asset. However, on the sidelines, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and his close lieutenants had a dramatic split which saw the formation of the MDC Renewal. And as if to seal off the death of the MDC-T, the party held its dump squib congress which went unnoticed.

While everyone else – in Government and civil society – was condemning the endemic corruption which was being exposed by this newspaper and our sister publication The Herald, Dr Mujuru came out guns blazing against our conduct.

She complained bitterly about revelations that some parastatal bosses were bleeding companies by earning huge perks while tender procedures were flouted wantonly in get-rich-quick schemes.

The Salarygate scandal, as it came to be known, exposed some fat cats like Public Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) former chief executive Mr Cuthbert Dube, who earned about US$500 000 per month while suspended Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation CEO Mr Happyson Muchechetere also enjoyed hefty perks at Pockets Hill at a time when other workers went for several months without salaries. Mr Muchechetere was also named in a procurement scandal in which he allegedly overpriced an Outside Broadcasting van by about US$900 000. The matter is still pending at the courts.

But the Government quickly moved in to plug the rot in parastatals by introducing a stringent monitoring and evaluation mechanism to put a US$6 000 salary cap on State linked firms’ bosses.

Despite the ripple effects of the Western imposed sanctions, President Mugabe continued to stir the country towards development as he clinched historical deals which riled the United States and her allies.

Government signed nine landmark agreements with the Chinese government to secure funding to bolster economic development through improvements in energy, rail and road infrastructure, energy, tourism, agriculture and telecommunications. Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa signed two master loan agreements with the China Export and Import Bank and the China Export and Credit Insurance Corporation to provide a securitisation framework for infrastructure and productive sectors.

The arrival of the Russians for a US$3 billion deal to jointly mine platinum in Darwendale marked another historical economic deal.

The mining project will produce about 600 000 ounces per year, which will see the creation of 8 000 jobs.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) introduced bond coins recently to deal with coin shortages for the next three years until economic fundamentals improve. However, the RBZ assured the nation that the multi-currency system will remain in place.

The year 2014 saw fugitive Madzibaba Ishmael Mufani and his rogue apostolic sect followers grabbing headlines for brutally assaulting Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) officials, police officers and journalists at a shrine in Budiriro. The ACCZ officials and police had moved in to ban the church for allegedly abusing women and children.

But the full wrath of law visited 11 of the 37 Mapostori after they were slapped with an effective five-year jail sentence while the remainder was acquitted for lack of evidence.

Disgraced clergyman, RMG End Time Message leader Robert Martin Gumbura was also jailed for 40 years for four counts of rape and another count for contravening the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act after he was found in possession of pornographic material.

Gumbura’s appeal for freedom on bail pending another appeal against conviction and sentence was quashed by the Supreme Court.

And the tussle for religious space saw celebrity preachers, Prophets Emmanuel Makandiwa of the United Family International Church and Walter Magaya of the Prophetic Healing Deliverance incorporating musicians and entertainers into their flock, with the latter alleged to have attracted close to 300 000 congregants to his Night of Turnaround Prayer 3. The all night prayer session was dubbed the biggest religious gathering in 2014.

However, tragedy struck when 11 worshippers died in a PHD crusade stampede in Kwekwe after police allegedly closed gates forcing about 30 000 congregants to use a single exit point.

The disaster was blamed on the police who failed to control the crowd as the officers fired teargas.

Wedding of the Year
Then, there was the wedding of President Mugabe’s only daughter Bona Chikore nee Mugabe to a pilot – Simba Chikore.

The wedding, which was held at the President’s official residence – the Blue Roof – dominated both local and international media while it was graced by several Heads of State and Government.

The wedding also saw Rhumba maestro Koffi “Mopao Mokonzi” Olomide serenading the exclusive guests.

Marriages gone wrong

At another glittering wedding ceremony, Sungura king Alick Macheso’s daughter Sharon married her long-time lover Kuda Munetsi. Sadly, the nuptials came under scrutiny barely two months down the line.

Sharon dragged her husband to court for domestic violence after which he was convicted and fined US$200. The two have since separated with Sharon demanding a divorce.

Macheso himself also became a permanent figure at the courts as he finally divorced his second wife Fortunate Tafadzwa Mapako.

Social commentator and motivational speaker Mrs Beatrice Lundi said 2014 will be one of the most remembered years in history.

“As media consumers, these issues made some of us laugh and others sad, but I think we should look beyond the seemingly fictitious nature and draw lessons from them. That will propel us to somewhere better as individuals and as a nation in 2015,” she said. Sunday Mail
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