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2013: A year of political turbulence

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2013 was a politically turbulent year that saw the end of an inclusive government among Zanu PF’s President Robert Mugabe and the two MDC parties led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube.

Report by Everson Mushava
Chief REporter

General elections held on July 31 saw Mugabe’s party get a landslide victory over Tsvangirai’s MDC-T in both the presidential and parliamentary vote to assume total control of government after sharing power for five years.

Mugabe won presidency by 61% as compared to Tsvangirai’s 34%, while his Zanu PF party garnered a majority control in parliament. Others who contested in the polls were PF Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa, Zimbabwe Democracy Party’s Kisinoti Mukwazi and Ncube (MDC).

The MDC-T leader claimed the polls were a “monumental farce” and challenged the poll results, but withdrew the legal fight after he was denied access to poll material by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

The MDC-T prepared a dossier to “expose the rigging” alleging that Zanu PF paid $10 million to Nikuv, an Israeli company to rig the polls. The MDC-T deputy chairman Morgen Komichi was arrested after being found in possession of an envelope containing special ballot papers.

Two commissioners from the ZEC Mkhululi Nyathi and Geoff Feltoe resigned amid speculation that the decision to resign could be related to the conduct of the hotly disputed July 31 polls.

Sadc, the African Union (AU) and the international community endorsed the polls which were rejected by the European Union (EU). The EU responded by maintaining sanctions on Mugabe’s regime following the elections that once more put the Zimbabwe’s “partisan” security forces into sharp focus.

Zimbabwe had been under a Sadc brokered coalition government since 2009 following disputed polls in 2008 that Sadc, the AU and the international community refused to endorse.

The Government of National Unity (GNU) which was born out of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), a power sharing deal that brought together the three feuding parties into one government, was meant to last for only 18 months but later lasted for five years due to political haggling.

Tsvangirai and Ncube were demanding reforms as outlined in the GPA, but Mugabe flatly frustrated the plans. This led to a series of Sadc Troika meetings to try to resolve the Zimbabwean political impasse.

According to the GPA, several reforms were supposed to be implemented before polls could be held. These included completion of a new constitution.

Mugabe resisted media reforms and security sector realignment, among an array of outstanding GPA reforms. A court challenge by a Zimbabwean national Jelousy Mawarire forced Mugabe to announce the election dates, despite Tsvangirai and Ncube claiming the date should have been process driven.

Mugabe snubbed the call by Sadc to have the poll dates postponed to give way to reforms and indeed, the polls were held on July 31. This was after the passing of a new consensus constitution produced by a parliamentary body Copac, on March 16 through a referendum after four years of haggling.

Mugabe proceeded to form a new government and reportedly snubbed Tsvangirai who had been allegedly making frantic efforts to meet him.

But recently, the party has been involved in serious factional fights between factions reportedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. The face-off resulted in a public spat between politicians aligned to each faction.

The war was about the control of provinces, which is widely seen as a step towards succeeding Mugabe. Mujuru at the end prevailed and won in nine out of the 10 provinces.

The MDC-T, which refused to accept Mugabe’s victory, refused to debate Mugabe’s official opening speech.

But the defeat also left the MDC-T more vulnerable, with some party heavyweights calling for Tsvangirai’s exit, notably, exiled secretary of finance Roy Bennet. Ian Kay joined in.

There were also reports of a feud between secretary-general Tendai Biti and national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa. MDC-T won in council elections in major cities, but councillors in Mutare, Kwekwe, Victoria Falls, to mention a few, conspired against a party directive and refused to vote for the party’s preferred candidates.

This forced the party to cleanse the party by firing Mutare mayor, recalling Gweru mayor and firing about 10 councillors. Party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said the party had evidence that the mayors and councillors took bribes from Zanu PF to betray the party.

On the economic front, 2013 would go into memory lane as one of the most difficult years, not only to individuals, but companies as well. Zanu PF introduced an economic blueprint, ZimAsset, but the majority accused Zanu PF of failing to come up with a rescue plan to pull the country out of the economic quagmire.

The country has been hit by a serious liquidity crunch that has seen some banks failing to service depositors.

The year ended with Tsvangirai calling for fresh elections, while Mugabe pleaded with some war veterans, particularly from PF Zapu, who defected from the party despite signing a Unity Accord, to rejoin the ruling party.

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