HARARE – The curtain came down on 2018 and as 2019 is finally into full swing, the Daily News spoke to a number of social and political analysts who gave us what they think were the political highlights of the year 2018.
ZimRights director Okay Machisa
The year 2018 saw us having for the first time presidential results being contested and decided in the Constitutional Court. The other highlight was the setting-up of a commission of enquiry in the August 1 shootings; but more importantly was the game blame between political parties over the deaths yet there were people in uniform seen shooting at civilians. I think the elections and opening up of international observers was quite a highlight.
Then we had Zec trying to be ‘‘transparent’’ but it turned out not to be reflective especially as regards to printing of ballot papers, arrangement of presidential names on the ballot papers among other issue.
Then there was the breakaway of Thokozani Khupe and Obert Gutu from MDC and a nasty fallout resulted. Morgan Tsvangirai’s death was historic and so was Chamisa’s coming in to take over, the drama around it was quite a spectacle. We also had the joining of Tendai Biti and Welshamn Ncube in the MDC Alliance.
The other highlight was Mnangagwa’s first 100 days in office and how his team failed to deliver. But more importantly is Mnagagwa’s failure to deliver since being voted into power, there has been a huge failure of systems to make ends meet, hence we have people queuing for basic commodities, there is no access to basic health and food. It is a mess economically.
Social analyst Rashweat Mukundu
I think the 2018 election is most outstanding not so much for the result but the return of the MDC under Nelson Chamisa. The shootings of August 1 will remain etched in the national memory psyche as an indication of how Zimbabwe state institutions are still underdeveloped and at most a reflection of a tin pot dictatorship despite the veneer of democracy.
Political analyst Vivid Gwede
The unfortunate death of Morgan Tsvangirai in February and his replacement by youthful MDC president, Nelson Chamisa, and his instant popularity wave created a major highlight in the early months of 2018. That was also followed by the confirmation of Chamisa as the youngest presidential candidate in the country’s history.
Therefore, the 2018 elections themselves being also the first after Robert Mugabe’s departure were history-making. However, sadly the lack of transparency in the vote count, the killing of civilians by soldiers on August 1 and the constitutional court case provided some of the questionable moments of Zimbabwe’s purported new order.
Equally, attention-grabbing has been the economic decisions that were made by the new Finance minister in terms of tax hikes under the controversial mantra “austerity for prosperity” and the subsequent sky-rocketing of prices of basic commodities.
The cholera outbreak was also in a bad sense, another highlight of the year. The commission of inquiry into the August 1 shootings has also been a big spectacle highlighting the deficient democratic and human rights culture among state institutions, but also the determination and erudition of the democratic activists and leaders.
Media practitioner Nigel Nyamutumbu
The biggest political highlight for Zimbabwe in 2018 was arguably the event of the 1st of August where unarmed civilians were fatally shot by military personnel in full glare of the international media and indeed the world.
The heavy-handed response to violent protesters that caught several innocent civilians in the crossfire is one of the reasons why President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration is suffering a legitimacy crisis.
It is one day that spoiled what had appeared to have been a relatively free and peaceful election. Yes, there were other concerns raised as to the fairness of the plebiscite, challenges that impacted on the credibility of the process, including the independence of the electoral commission and the Judiciary.
But the brazen nature with which the military intervened on the 1st of August was too big an event for the international community to ignore and the Mnangagwa administration has to do more to demonstrate that it is genuinely different and can reform.
Crisis Coalition spokesperson Tabani Moyo
The major highlight is the disputed plebiscite and the subsequent assuming of office of Mnangagwa. The extra-legal judicial killings by the military that saw six people losing lives, is another highlight.
We also saw the appointment of the commission of inquiry into the same. But the one which remains a headache to every citizen is the biting economic crisis as seen by run-away inflation, multiple pricing, fuel crisis among others.
These among others are telling signs that the current leadership is clueless on the way forward, hence the need for dialogue among stakeholders to allow for the country to stabilise and chat a progressive way forward.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme
The death of Morgan Tsvangirai and the rise of Nelson Chamisa in a typhoon fashion. The July 30 poll was another highlight and MDC Alliance futile court challenge that passes as the legal drama of the year!
The shooting of civilians on August 1 and the commission of inquiry that followed it was an important development. And not to forget the partisan arrest of G40 members on corruption charges!
Social activist Ednah Masanga
The main political highlight for 2018 for me is the electoral loss of Nelson Chamisa under really disputed circumstances. That has to be the highlight of the year.
The whole shambolic election really just trumped all other political events in 2018. I will always remember Zec bungling prior to the election and then the infamous shootings in its aftermath.
Writer Virginia Phiri
I would say the highlights were elections. Everyone was anxious to vote in the hope that the quality of life would be better through an improved economy. Right now it is hard for many people to put food on the table.
ERC director Tawanda Chimhini
The year 2018 was an election year defined by a cocktail of impressions of progress diluted by regression on the democratic front. It was a year marked by missed opportunities and false starts with major highlights having been the invitation of foreign observers and the international media to watch the elections, the finalisation of a voters’ roll said to be biometric but barely shared with stakeholders.
It was a year in which electoral reforms were largely frowned upon with the last set of piecemeal amendments to the Electoral Act coming at the end of May.
It was a year in which the courts ruled that partisan conduct by traditional leaders was unconstitutional while the president of the Chief’s Council blatantly defied the court order in the presence of the President, the one office sworn to protecting and defending the Constitution.
The year 2018 saw a disputed election that was decided by the Constitutional Court whose full judgment is yet to be released.
It was a year in which the largely peaceful preelection environment was violently disrupted by the August 1st shooting of civilians by the military. The last quarter of the year witnessed the public following proceedings of the commission of inquiry which commission’s appointment was very controversial and contested. 2018 was a challenging year for democracy in which the new dispensation was tested and unfortunately failed to convincingly exhibit a genuine willingness to set the country on a path to democratic reforms beyond the rhetoric and mantra.
If 2018 set a tone for what should be expected over the next four years before the next election, the new administration must move from words to actions in delivering a nation where the citizen comes first.
Political activist Solomon Madzore
Political highlights for 2018 among others are as follows; The consolidation of power by Mnangagwa after the coup; the “pretence” to open up democratic spaces previously closed by former President Robert Mugabe; the announcement to the world that those who wanted to come and observe elections were free to do so; the Davos meeting by Mnangagwa, in a way that trip helped to chlorinate ED’s thuggish image as well as sanitising the coup; the sad passing on of Morgan Tsvangirai on February 14 in South Africa; the taking over of the MDC leadership by Nelson Chamisa; the uniting of various political players to form an Opposition Coalition under the auspices of MDC Alliance; the subsequent election on July 30 followed by the fatal shootings that murdered civilians on August 1 and; lastly to me the Motlanthe Commission is just a charade not worth mentioning at all.
It is a continuation of the sanitisation, the chlorination and disinfection of the ‘‘ED pfeee’’ agenda setting, which is very regrettable.
Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga
Two key political highlights of 2018 were the relatively peaceful but disputed 2018 elections whose outcome for president was only decided by the Constitutional Court in favour of president Mnangagwa; and the extreme post-election violence on August 1, 2018 when soldiers opened fire on protesters resulting in the killing of at least six unarmed people.
Mnangagwa’s subsequent commission of inquiry into the post-election violence, which, in an unprecedented fashion, was broadcast live for the public, also took centre-stage, with the public closing the year in much anticipation for the report of the commission which was submitted to president Mnangagwa but has not been made public.
Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba
The major political highlights in 2018 included the elections held on July 30, 2018, where the majority in urban areas hoped for the ouster of Zanu PF but the party fought back through their rural strongholds. However, the major highlight was that the rural areas were largely accessible to the opposition but the major talking point is how far the rural areas have been democratised to embrace modernity and new political thinking.
On August 1, 2018, the death of six innocent civilians remains a major dent on the political scene. Those people died at the hands of politicians desperate for political power. Either way the politicians are responsible for the deaths of the innocent people.
The country is in turmoil owing to the socioeconomic and political challenges emanating from the legitimation crisis that we face. Fuel queues and shortages of basic commodities is making life extremely difficult for everyone.
The politicians ironically are not paying attention to this. Instead they are still fighting on who has the most support, who has the absolute power, and who is in charge.
Our politics is rotten to the core. Political leaders are insensitive, and they do not have the heart of responsible and accountable leadership.
Lawyer and politician Obert Gutu
The major political highlight of 2018 was on July 30 when harmonised elections were held in Zimbabwe, for the first time without former president Robert Mugabe and the late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s name appearing on the presidential ballot paper.
It was also arguably the very first time since the formation of the MDC that all political parties and political contenders had the opportunity to freely campaign wherever they wanted in the country without so-called no-go areas for the opposition.
It’s very unfortunate that the presidential election result was hotly contested and to this very day, Zimbabwe remains a deeply polarised nation. The other major political highlight was the appointment of the commission of inquiry to look into the extremely tragic and unfortunate incident that took place on August 1.
The Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry captured the attention of the nation as it held public hearings to look into what exactly happened on August 1 and who caused what and why.