In two weeks, the year 2013 comes to an end paving way for 2014. 2013 was a dramatic year.
WITH TAPIWA GOMO
It started with Morgan Tsvangirai as a Prime Minister, Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe as his deputy prime ministers and it is ending with these personalities jobless.New faces have entered the fray.
It was a year pregnant with expectations. On May 9, 2013, Zimbabwe approved a new constitution sending the Lancaster House Constitution to the archives.
About a month after the new constitution was adopted, an election date was announced signalling an imminent end to a five-year political marriage of convenience between Zanu PF and the MDCs.
Again, this period was not without its own drama with some questioning the constitutionality of July 31 election date, while the other side proved arrogance is the main deciding factor than compliance to the Constitution. That combined with over-complacency, however, handed arrogance victory on a silver platter over logic and constitutionality paving way for a well-contrived election on July 31 which culminated in an unimaginable and yet difficult to challenge election outcome.
Based on these developments and those from 2008, one cannot deny that our politics has changed many folds, but the political terrain remains unchanged. Power was shared, but later retained.
A new Constitution was approved, but power and the status quo remain unchanged. Democracy took centre-stage, but political arrogance of the past triumphed. Spaces of democracy opened up, but later shrunk. Over a decade of politics dominating our lives, two major aspects of our lives have not changed and are unlikely to change in 2014.
The first one is that political power is still centralised as it was decades ago and, secondly, that during over a decade of political heckling, power forgot to look after the welfare of the people as it focused on itself. Even after it triumphed, the focus is yet to change.
The prospects of land reform are thwarted by stunted economic growth, if not regressing due to policy uncertainty.
Despite a few public relations projects in Western countries to give a green and successful face to the land reform, sadly those public relations projects are in stark contrast to the face of hunger that characterises millions’ daily lives. It is a mockery to our people to portray success of the land reform in cooked-up reports with the myopic objective of spiting the West while millions of our people go hungry every day.
It is self-deprecating to pretend everything is going on well in the agriculture sector when the economy remains suppressed and the country relying on food imports.
An indigenisation policy which was supposed to be linked to the land reform to re-establish a locally-driven economy and even out imbalances of the past has become a monstrous chicken that preys on its eggs and yet expects to produce chicks. Consequently, the face of indigenisation is none other than a trader who buys Chinese clothing to dress up the same well-fed political chickens.
The economy has become porous with more earnings saved out of the country depriving the country of the much-needed liquidity. Even when the country has become one of the leading diamond producers, millions of people are living in poverty. In fact, these millions of people have not seen the proceeds from the sale of diamonds; they only read and hear in the media that the country produces diamonds.
They have watched as job prospects promised during election campaigns thaw and evaporate into the thin air of despair. For those few who still maintained their jobs, accessing their cash has become another added challenge to the list of many.
I have argued in previous instalments that with diamonds alone, Zimbabwe is in a better position to replenish and multiply its energy production than it was two decades ago, but today some people have not used their switches as electricity supply has become spasmodic.
The environment has succumbed to the whims of bad governance as people cut down trees that used to decorate our beautiful country, in search of energy.The water taps that used to ooze crystal-clear water have become a threat to public health if at all they produce water. Fuel which used to be cheaper than a banana per litre a decade ago is now contaminated with ethanol and autocratically imposed on motorists.
With all the systems and structures deteriorating in our sight, political power remains unchanged and even stronger than it was before. This power has demonstrated its aptitude in the art of conducting elections and winning them hands down. But such dexterity has not demonstrated its willingness to address the developmental challenges facing the people today.
Given such a scenario, the only valid conclusion to be drawn from this is that this power is self-centred and does not care about the people. If it did, surely Zimbabwe would have been a land of milk and honey, a land of possibilities, a land of dreams, but alas, it has become a land of despair.