Tomorrow, we plunge into January signifying the beginning of a new year and the ending of the old one.
It is believed the month is named after Janus, an ancient Roman god.
Janus is, according to Roman religion and mythology, the god of beginnings and transitions. He presides over gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings. He is depicted as having two faces since he looks to the future and to the past.
It’s timely to remind ourselves of this Roman myth as we enter the New Year. One of Janus’s faces is looking back at 2014 while the other is looking ahead to 2015.
The backward-looking face is obviously very depressed since there is very little to celebrate in the year gone by. It began badly as people began to see that the promises they had been given by the eventual winner of the harmonised July 31 2013 elections would never come to pass.
The promise of two million jobs was never going to be fulfilled. Instead, several thousand people were going to lose their jobs, and therefore, their sources of livelihood, as the year wore on. This time last year, dozens of factories shut down, never to open again.
The few successes achieved against all odds during the inclusive government were quickly reversed as the ruling Zanu PF threw caution to the wind and failed to define clearly its policies, particularly the indigenisation law seen by many in and outside the country as the single most intractable law hindering foreign investment.
President Robert Mugabe and his cohort sang from different hymn books throughout the year. He then regressed to the highly racist thinking of the turn of the millennium when he caused the expropriation of farms owned by white farmers and parcelled them out to his cronies. Last year, he, on several occasions, urged his supporters to chase the remaining white farmers away from their land.
Some hope was raised when he apparently signed “megadeals” with his eastern allies namely China and Russia, which two countries promised to pour in billions of dollars in new investment into Zimbabwe.
But the troubles that haunted the ruling party for the better half of the year must surely have affected the two countries’ enthusiasm to invest. Russia also began to experience its own problems which have seen its economy plummet. It might not make political and economic sense for it to release the promised $3 billion to Zimbabwe any time soon.
The infighting in Zanu PF did not end, as anticipated, with the party congress early this month. Instead, it has developed new dimensions that make it even more complex. In the face of this, investment from the East is unlikely to happen at the scale it was hoped it would.
But the greatest casualties of all these are the common people, the very people who placed all their hopes on the ruling party in giving is a landslide victory in July 2013. Not only are more of them without jobs looking forward but also their children face an even bleaker future.
Janus’s second face, which is looking to the New Year, is anguished and is creased with despair, disillusionment and pessimism for there seems to be no new beginning or transition in the making!