2015 a slippery slope for Zim and its Bob

via 2015 a slippery slope for Zim and its Bob – NewZimbabwe 30/12/2015

FORGET Cecil the Lion: for Zimbabweans, 2015 was mostly about President Robert Mugabe, lack of money, and how long both would last.

While Cecil and his death at the hands of an American dentist may have turned the world’s spotlight back onto this southern African country in the middle of the year, the tragic episode paled in comparison to massive job cuts, a worsening cash crunch and the unmistakeable glee that greeted the #MugabeFalls debacle.

Here are some of the biggest news stories from Zimbabwe in the last 12 months:

#MugabeFalls (not from power, silly): That red carpet tumble at Harare International Airport in early February prompted a slew of hilarious internet memes of the 91-year-old. Officials insisted it wasn’t a full-blown fall and even if it was, he “broke” it. The fall, not the internet.

He stumbled again, in October, at a summit in India.

An elephantine birthday feast: Or not, as it turns out. Those two elephants donated by a new farmer to feed partygoers at Mugabe’s 91st birthday in Victoria Falls were returned and the farmer arrested. Apparently they weren’t his elephants to donate. There were lots of birthday cakes at the party though. And Mugabe evidently liked Victoria Falls so much that he took his Zanu-PF party there again in December, for its annual conference.

One mischievous commentator suggested Victoria Falls should be renamed Mugabe Falls, at least for the duration of the conference. Mugabe turns 92 in just two months (though a Malawian prophet says the president won’t make it to January 1, let alone to his party).

Itai Dzamara: this journalist-turned-activist was abducted from a barber’s shop in March. Nine months on, he has still not been found. Big news story? If it wasn’t, it probably should have been.

Cecil the Lion: The international media furore over Cecil’s killing in July took many Zimbabweans by surprise. After all, apart from visitors and workers in swanky lodges in Hwange, who’d actually heard of the animal, magnificent though he clearly was? Lions aren’t every Zimbabwean’s friend, especially if you live in the rural areas. By the way, dentist Walter Palmer appears to have gotten off scot-free.

Job cuts: Ongoing throughout the year, they were particularly harsh in July and August after a court ruling made it easier to sack workers without paying heavy termination benefits. Many companies had workforces inherited from the Zimbabwe dollar era, when wages were low in forex terms. Parliament had to be recalled to put a stop to the sackings – but not before more than 20 000 people had lost their jobs in just six weeks. The cuts meant less tax revenue in the treasury, which was bad news.

Wrong speech: Like the #MugabeFalls debacle, this was intensely embarrassing, not only (one presumes since he didn’t actually say so) for the Zimbabwean president himself, but also for those who insist he is fully fit to govern. Mugabe read out the wrong speech at the opening of parliament in September, a speech he’d already given in public three weeks earlier. Officials later blamed a mix-up in his secretary’s office. But that hasn’t stopped the speculation at every subsequent public event: will the president read the right speech this time?

Now you see her, now you don’t: After getting herself elected as ruling party women’s league president at the end of last year, First Lady Grace Mugabe suddenly disappeared from view. She’d had an operation to her appendix in the New Year, the president explained.

But that didn’t explain her almost complete absence from the public eye for several months. Speculation mounted: Was she terminally ill? Had she sneaked out for treatment in Dubai, where her elder son is believed to be studying?

In the last few months, Grace Mugabe has been back with a bang, holding rallies in different parts of the country at which she’s controversially handed out government-sourced agricultural inputs (as well as shoes, clothes and washing powder).

She claims she doesn’t want to be Zimbabwe’s next president. Should we believe her? One thing’s increasingly clear: she doesn’t want Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to be Zimbabwe’s next president either.

Elephant poisonings in Hwange and Kariba: News that poachers used cyanide to kill 60 elephants, mostly in Zimbabwe’s biggest national park, sparked outrage. It’s still not clear who masterminded the killings, but the suspicion is that some rangers and villagers may have been involved.

Civil servants’ wages (or rather, the lack of them): Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa’s struggle to raise money to keep Zimbabwe afloat is no secret. The authorities have been racking their brains to find ways of raising money: there are now ambitious plans to tax churches, increase power tariffs, impose an “indigenisation levy”, hike traffic fines and tap into the nearly $2bn that Zimbabweans in the diaspora send home to their families each year.

This week, public anger has been growing over the authorities’ failure to pay civil servants on time, while Mugabe holidays with his family in the Far East. Teachers have just been paid (though in some cases apparently with their salaries inexplicably docked), while nurses and doctors will have to wait until next week.

There are growing strike threats, prompting at least one media commentator to ask if civil servants would be the “changemakers” Zimbabwe had been waiting for.

After all, the one man who made “change” his rallying cry a few years back – opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai – has hardly made the news at all this year. Which doesn’t bode that well for his future either.


  • comment-avatar
    Mukanya 5 years ago

    The only news-worthy article in 2015 is the abduction/kidnapping and murder of Itai Dzamara.
    R I P Itai DZAMARA.

  • comment-avatar

    Why economy of Zimbabwe is poor in all over the world.

  • comment-avatar
    NUWERI 5 years ago

    HEY…HEY YOU ALL. Please tell me that this is the debate we need to have to choose the next leader who will deliver us from Matibili’s failures of 36years!? I thought we were wiser now? Please Zimbabwe, let’s take this time to look around for a visionary leader with corporate experience and dexterity to guide this nation to competitiveness in this new century of data and .coms. The issues you are dwelling on to appraise the kind of leader we require to take this nation forward are wrong!

    Please Zimbabwe, it’s no longer about downing helicopters or blowing trains. It’s about brains now, it’s about strategy to navigate the country forward in a competitive world of production of goods and services and balancing internal and foreign interests/policies. It’s about growing the GDP from Mugabe’s USD3billion budget for 14million population (shrunk – less than Smith’s USD18billion for 7million population) to USD500billion within the next 15-20years.

    Who, among all the names you have put in the hat can measure up? ZERO! Zimbabwe, it’s time we consider the top business persons in our country, those who understand and have experience of the balance sheet, cash flow, income statements, capital formation and operations of corporate entities.

    I can help with names if you want. Mutizwa (ex Delta) Strive Masiyiwa (Econet) Albert Nduna (Zimre), Arther Mutambara; Lovemore Mukono (Mukonitronics) John Mberi (Afrosoft) Dr Guramatunhu; Muthuli Ncube…among others.

    Zimbabwe, let us sober up. The future is there for us to build or destroy. Being jailed or spared death by Smith will not bring a better future for Zimbabwe’s economy and neither is carrying a gun in the 1970s going to deliver prosperity. Only smart minds and visionary leadership of the modern times will do. Lets look around for our best brains. Please consider this seriously. Our country has been blessed with good security and stability. There are no bombs blasting everywhere as elsewhere, no militias are terrorising citizens, thanks to those who are active in this sector. But economically, our country is crying out for leadership. None of the names you have put forward can rise up to this challenge. It’s time for fresh thinking, its time for tried and tested corporate leaders to try their skills in nation building. Right now, the Mugabe people are corrupt and corrupt to the bone. They have corrupted everything from the air we breathe to the graves we are buried in. Fertile farms are being subdivided to sell as plots, Zisco is gone, ESC/ZESA is gone, NRZ is gone, ZUPCO is gone (remember Salisbury United? CSC is gone..the list is your who’s who.

    Please Zimbabwe, the new debate should centre on the new narrative. Mugabe generation again?