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NewsDay newsmakers of the year 2013

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President Robert Mugabe remained one of the country’s most-talked-about politicians.

President Mugabe addresses a party rally at Nzvimbo in Chiweshe in the run up to the July 31 elections. Picture by Aaron Ufumeli
President Mugabe addresses a party rally at Nzvimbo in Chiweshe in the run up to the July 31 elections. Picture by Aaron Ufumeli

Speculation about his age and failing health dominated the political discourse in the run-up to the July 31 polls, but the veteran Zanu PF leader proved age is all but a number when he entered the race against all odds and triumphed over his bitter rival MDC-T’s Morgan Tsvangirai for the Presidency.

Mugabe proved age is all but a number when he entered the race against all odds and triumphed over his bitter rival MDC-T’s Morgan Tsvangirai (pictured above) for the Presidency.
Mugabe proved age is all but a number when he entered the race against all odds and triumphed over his bitter rival MDC-T’s Morgan Tsvangirai for the Presidency.

He successfully blocked a push by some Zanu PF factions to turn the party’s annual conference into a mini-congress in order to choose his successor, appoint a Second Vice-President and fill in other top party positions left vacant following the death of many senior party officials over the past two years.

Nelson Mandela

The death of Mandela, the world’s most popular political prisoner, was without doubt one of the biggest stories of the year. Before he became South Africa’s first black president in 1994, Mandela, who died on December 5, had stayed in apartheid prisons for a record 27 years fighting injustice.

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela

His death drew comparisons with Robert Mugabe in terms of the different leadership styles and legacy. More than 100 world leaders including Mugabe attended Mandela’s memorial.

Gideon Gono

The former governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s term of office ended on November 30 having overseen the country’s economic meltdown for 10 years. Gono was immediately drafted into Zanu PF circles and endorsed as a Zanu PF Senator for Buhera replacing national hero Kumbirai Kangai who died in August this year.

RMG End Time Message Church leader Robert Martin Gumbura

His ongoing trial at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts has left the country perplexed after several female members of his church filed rape charges. It has also emerged that his 11 young wives had to apply for permission if they wanted to watch television while he used sexual enhancers.

Wives and relatives of Gumbura captured here at the Harare Magistrates' court.
Wives and relatives of Gumbura captured here at the Harare Magistrates’ court.

Gumbura, who says he wants 100 children and does not deny having had sex with women including married ones, is in custody awaiting ruling on the matter in January.

George Charamba

He was in the eye of a storm after rubbishing results of the chaotic Zanu PF provincial elections in Mashonaland Central, which he claimed were not conclusive. He said he was speaking on behalf of President Mugabe, but courted controversy after Zanu spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and Administration secretary Didymus Mutasa blasted him for overstepping his mandate. He however stuck to his guns and Mugabe eventually supported him.

UFIC church leader Emmanuel Makandiwa

As Gumbura grabbed headlines for all the wrong reasons, United Family International Church leader Emmanuel Makandiwa was on the ground, reaching out to vulnerable groups in both rural and urban centres.

In September, the church donated sanitary wear and other goodies to all female inmates at Chikurubi Maximum Prison.

On his birthday, the youthful man of the cloth organised a party for street kids and children from orphanages at the City Sports Centre in Harare before proceeding to Nyanga, where he distributed food and other necessities to 15 villages. Makandiwa is constructing a 30 000-seater church in Chitungwiza, which during the year became the subject of a court case.

Joseph Chinotimba

Despite his comic life, the war veterans’ leader made it into Parliament following the July 31 polls. To date, the former trade unionist has caused a storm in the House of Assembly through his jocund contributions which are many a time incoherent and laced with broken English.

Joseph Chinotimba kicks of an imaginary ball before getting into Parliament.
Joseph Chinotimba kicks of an imaginary ball before getting into Parliament.

Morgen Komichi

The MDC-T deputy chairman was convicted and given a community service sentence for illegal possession of national ballot papers used during the special voting.

Morgen Komichi serving his community service at Marbelreign Clinic.
Morgen Komichi serving his community service at Marbelreign Clinic.

What made the whole issue dramatic was that he was arrested on the eve of the July 31 elections and was MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s chief election agent.

Although he was in jail he was nevertheless elected into the Upper House.

Jonathan Moyo

Following his fallout with both President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF in 2005, Moyo bounced back into the party’s politburo and eventually landed the Media, Information and Broadcasting Services Cabinet portfolio after the July 31 elections.

Unlike his previous hardline stance, Moyo returned a different character altogether — if his conciliatory approach is anything to go by. Together with his deputy Supa Mandiwanzira, Moyo is preaching the gospel of peace, tolerance and reconciliation, emphasising on the need to build bridges and end media polarisation. He has ordered an audit at ZBC where the suspended chief executive Happison Muchechetere earned more than $40 000 monthly when other staff members had gone for half a year without salaries.

Nelson Chamisa

MDC-T organising secretary became the worst organiser after his party was routed by Zanu PF in the July 31 elections.

This resulted in some party officials calling for his ouster. He is also accused of lying to party leader Morgan Tsvangirai that he had won the election even before the vote took place claiming he had been shown a prophesy.

Vice-President Joice Mujuru

Accused of leading a Zanu PF faction angling to succeed Mugabe, Mujuru’s group is reported to have planned to dislodge party provincial executives seen as supportive to her rival Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa with the hope that the provincial line-ups will vote for Mugabe’s successor at the party conference in Chinhoyi.

Vice President Joice Mujuru taking her oath in September
Vice President Joice Mujuru taking her oath in September

Her faction was left with egg on the face after Mugabe refused to budge and convert the conference into a mini-congress for purposes of electing officials to key positions left vacant by deaths of senior party officials.

Emmerson Mnangagwa

Another faction leader who describes himself “as soft as wool”, Mnangagwa, a reported Mugabe confidant, is also said to be vying to replace Mugabe. Mnangagwa and Mujuru are accused of fanning divisions in Zanu PF as they jostle to succeed Mugabe after party provincial elections were dismally arranged with allegations of vote buying and rigging blighting the party.

Walter Mzembi

Considered a moderate in Zanu PF circles, Mzembi became the face of Zimbabwe when he won the right to co-host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in Victoria Falls — itself a milestone of greater magnitude.

Tourism and Hospitality Industry  Minister Walter Mzembi addressing guests at an AMH Conversations UNWTO Dinner.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi addressing guests at an AMH Conversations UNWTO Dinner.

He was to resoundingly win his Masvingo South House of Assembly seat and was reappointed to the Tourism ministry, whose grand plan for 2014 is to bring in huge groups of tourists into the country. Just by hosting UNWTO Zimbabwe’s battered image is slightly being repaired for the better despite Zanu PF’s otherwise crooked politics.

Saviour Kasukuwere

Very forceful, Kasukuwere was all over news pages locally, regionally and internationally soon after his appointment as Environment, Water and Climate ministry following an ecological disaster in the country’s major national park — Hwange. Over 115 elephants were killed by cyanide poisoning and he was at the forefront pushing for stiffer penalties to poachers. Most of those that were arrested have been sentenced to terms ranging from 5-20 years for poaching jumbos.

Francis Nhema

An introvert, Nhema’s appointment to the Empowerment ministry has brought investor confidence in the country. The country can expect some investment inflows after he indicated that all companies still to present their indigenous plans will be given time to comply while locals would be asked to pay for their stakes in foreign firms.

Beverly Sibanda

Dancer Beverly Sibanda popularised pole dancing, a new entertainment craze that took Harare by storm. Known by fans as Bev, the raunchy dancer was arrested in September, following publication of pictures that were deemed to be indecent in the local media. The dancer spent two days in the holding cells and claimed she was forced to dance for police officers.

Bev
Bev

Pokello Nare

Big Brother Africa – The Chase participant Pokello Nare was in the news after hooking up with fellow housemate Elikem Kumordzi of Ghana.

Pokello and Elikem
Pokello and Elikem

Nare dumped boyfriend Desmond Chideme, popularly known as Stunner, during the show. Together with Stunner, Pokello had earlier on produced a sex tape that went viral in Harare before going international soon after the BBA show started.

Baba Jukwa

The shadowy character that used social media network Facebook to communicate sensitive State and Zanu PF top secrets was an instant hit attracting more than 300 000 followers within a short space of time especially in the run-up to the harmonised elections. Baba Jukwa successfully foretold the death of former Zanu PF MP Edward Chindori-Chininga.

Morgan Tsvangirai

Hate him or love him, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has become one of the few most-talked- about politicians in the country after successfully challenging Mugabe who has dominated Zimbabwe’s politics for over 30 years. He forced Mugabe to share power following a stalemate in the 2008 presidential election.

Visibly shaken,MDC – T leader Morgan Tsvangirai  addresing a press conference  a day after the July 31 elections  Picture: Aaron Ufumeli
Visibly shaken,MDC – T leader Morgan Tsvangirai addresing a press conference a day after the July 31 elections Picture: Aaron Ufumeli

He remains the only politician to present a serious challenge to Mugabe. He lost the presidential election for the third time in the July 31 polls, which he claims were rigged prompting him to lodge a petition with the Constitutional Court which he later withdrew.

Some members of his party called for him to step down blaming him for the party loss.

Uebert Angel

He has been labelled a trickster and fraudster — because of his antics and somewhat miraculous powers on the pulpit. His critics say he is arrogant and extraordinarily opulent —attributes not associated with Christianity. They doubt his powers to produce money from thin air and his ability to heal the sick and the lame. Angel, through the Hand of Mercy (Home), an arm of his Spirit Embassy Ministry, does philanthropic work.

Boris Mushonga

The life of Boris Mushonga, the robber who died in a horrific car crash at Zindoga shopping centre in Waterfalls, Harare, was one of the major highlights of the year, especially the drama that unfolded after his death. Boris’ colleagues made a movie style funeral parade in Mbare where police fired gunshots in a befitting end to a life that mirrored the fabled Robin Hood’s. Mushonga was arrested several times, but he would always find his way out of custody.

Friends and relatives of Boris Mushonga carry his coffin around Mbare
Friends and relatives of Boris Mushonga carry his coffin around Mbare

Godwills Masimirembwa

The former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation boss hit the headlines after President Mugabe publicly accused him of soliciting a $6 million bribe from a Ghanaian businessman who wanted to invest in the country’s diamond sector.

Strive Masiyiwa

His star continues to shine as he expands his business empire across all sectors of the economy dovetailing from his Econet brand. Internationally, he was also visible on Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra), aimed at growing Africa’s agriculture revolution.

Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga

Dominated news after she was hand-picked by her party leader to represent Welshman Ncube’s MDC in Matabeleland South sparking an outrage within the party structures which led to mass resignations and court challenges to try and force her to withdraw. However, she has remained in the House of Assembly although some disgruntled party stalwarts are demanding her recall, while her party looks disintegrating.

Energy Mutodi

The musician-cum-property developer made it onto the news pages all for the wrong reasons after falling on a bad patch both musically, socially and in business.

Mutodi was in and out of the courts and remand prison for the better part of the year as home seekers accused him of fleecing them and failing to deliver the promised residential stands.

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