BY January 7 2022, the world tally of Covid-19, otherwise known as the corona-virus pandemic crossed the 300 million infections mark.
The virus, which had ripped through the globe, having been first identified in Wuhan, China in 2020 devastated world-economies, controlled, restricted, and altered our daily lives, masks, vaccines, social distancing on totally new level and propelled world poverty, smacked downward on global living standards, and gave new and depressing meanings to the word “lockdown”.
All that smacking must have been the spark that ignited Will Smith to slap the heck out of Chris Rock at the 94th Oscar Awards, making it the most watched and trending video on YouTube at the time.
There was some reprieve however, as the world began restrictions, eased cautiously back to opening international borders and ‘Big pharma’ paused in its competitive vaccination promotion, the virus seemed contained for the most part, and variants eased off. We all felt the air we breathed had changed, watchfully adjusting back from remote working wherever in the world we were.
Sport came back into circuit only still with the world isolation politics in play, the famed Australian Open 2022 was marred by the number 1 tennis champion, Novak Djokovic’s much exposed deportation due to his vaccination status but, he has been welcomed back with open arms since then.
We were all warily on a new path guarded in the return to social events when bolted back to hard-hitting reality with the advent of Russian aggression against Ukraine. Despite full scale condemnation from the West, Vladimir Putin, who has served continuously either as Prime Minister or President since 1999, began a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
The EU, Nato, and western allies were fast to respond to this act of aggression with maximum trade, sports and economic sanctions being imposed.
This unprecedented western response towards Putin’s Russia, visited targeted sanctions on highly prolific Russian billionaires, and wrapped in that mire was the fate of Chelsea Football Club, from successful premier league champions to one that was hanging in the balance, as the billionaire was forced out.
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Footballs’ overreaching global impact was sure to make the world pay attention to a war that most would underestimate the consequences of which.
By mid-March 2022, Russian oil would be banned, its gas becomes highly topical, and the European Union would make a statement that it would reduce its dependency on Russian gas by as much as two-thirds, a spring statement that would come to haunt them for affordable alternatives in the late winter of 2022.
In April, political fractions in Pakistan prompted the National Assembly to oust the former cricketer the infamous Imran Khan from his role as Prime Minister while international news was entirely focused on the soaring global food prices, which reached their highest peak since 1990, all due to the Ukraine invasion.
The price of wheat hits 20% higher, making life with bread for the world’s poorest even more bleak. Austerity persisted and a new virus was reported in May 2022, the first Monkey Pox virus outbreak in UK, and across the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka’s massive protests eventually forced the hand of the Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign.
Meanwhile the fortunes of migrants around the world, fleeing their desperate states often under treacherous circumstances, in the anxious search for hope and welfare is met with further inhumane reactions.
Migrant border crossings in 2022 topped 2,76 million, with Latin America breaking records due to the economic casualties of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua.
Only it was 53 migrants from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that were found dead in a tractor trailer in Texas USA in July 2022 that shocked an already distressed world that favours populism over aid and support.
Meanwhile, Europe is hit by high summer temperatures causing evacuations and fire related deaths of up to 53 000 across the continent.
In August, in the Middle-East, Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza, killing a targeted Islamic jihad military leader, whilst in East Africa, the Kenyan general election is won by William Ruto, who defeated the much-entrenched opposition leader Raila Odinga, and though Odinga supporters protest the election result, Ruta is confirmed as the legitimate victor.
By September the UK is in a political shambles, Boris Johnson has been unceremoniously passed out, and the incumbent Liz Truss keen to make a Conservative pounce back, practically assures a future victory for Keir Starmer and his Labour party, as her budget rocks the financial markets and is severely criticised, she is forced to resign allowing for history to be made by, Rishi Sunak, the first non-white, Indian Prime Minister of the UK.
Except that the fate of the UK and Commonwealth is blighted with the announcement of Queen Elizabeth II’s death on September 8 2022, at Balmoral, at the age of 96, the longest reigning monarch in British history is laid to rest in a funeral ceremonial process fitting for her long and historic rule. Charles III ascends as King.
The end of year within sights, the world is still wrestling with climate change, inflation, rising energy prices, cost of living crisis, and war. The year has seen clashes on the Indian and Chinese border, between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Taiwan and China heated in their animosity, which was fuelled further by a visit from Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, the world stage for political influence is being waged by those who have not realised that times have completely changed, and views are swaying towards ‘my country, my rules’.
The last months of 2022 are dominated by Elon Musk and his megalomania drive for Twitter, and he completes his acquisition of Twitter at the whopping price of US$44 billion.
Salman Rushdie, the famed author of the Satanic Verses, is shockingly stabbed multiple times on a stage in New York. The injuries sustained included him losing an eye and the function of one of his hands.
It has also been over a 100 days since the death of the Iranian Mahasa Amini, her improper wearing of the hijab and death at the hands of the morality police activated the Iranian people into mass protests, internationally and at home in Iran.
The year ends with the World still in turbulence, chaos, politically, economically and socially damaged, and the rise of Crypto currency is in shreds after the announcement of FTX Trading valued at US$18 billion declaring bankruptcy affecting the entire crypto environment.
And yet, for one fine moment in soccer, the FIFA World Cup held in Qatar saw a finale between France and Argentina that was absolutely riveting and witnessed Argentina take home the cup in the hands of Lionel Messi, but sadly days later the one iconic figure of football for over 50 years, the legendary Pele dies.
So what has the New Year in store for each of us? Depending on your astrological inclinations career, romance, financial management or will we see more of the same global chaos and reminders of the previous year?
It is likely that the Russian-Ukraine war will see further damaging consequences, and though we hope for a ceasefire, President Volodymyr Zelensky will not accept one under any terms that annexes occupied territories.
This is going to propagate energy crisis in Europe, gas and energy shortfall will be the topping agenda for Europe as it is far from getting through its coldest winter.
China is also facing for the first time an economic stagnation largely due to its “Zero-Covid” policy, which seems to have been entirely shelved in a U-turn extraordinaire, but once China gets a grip on its living with Covid status, it could well bounce back, but watch the tension mounting between China and Taiwan, as this could rise if diplomatic initiatives fail.
Our African Continent saw hand-out and bail out during the last few years, and debt restructuring will be upper most on the minds of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank as interest rate rises will impact repayments, and growth on the continent is likely to remain subdued.
Not to mention that Southern Africa is in a colossal energy crisis, blackouts are consistent, with internal and external turbulence exasperating our commitment to development while diminishing the currency base against the US dollar.
Resource based economies will remain challenged as domestic price pressures intensify, and Zimbabwe is in an election year, meaning political policy-makers need to remain steady while the informal economy suffers.
The heavyweight countries of South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya are in a technical recession, and regional conflict zones of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique and Burkina Faso all have the African Union on edge. Risk to the regions outlook need to be strongly managed to face these uncertainties.
Trying to predict the future is not a futile exercise, but in a world in such disarray, it is more like a prophecy in miscalculation. We can, however, predict that going back to work will be on the cards, remote meetings will likely end and bring the office firmly back.
Curbing world inflation is the main item of control on the international finance agenda, crypto currency is expected to see a decline in demand.
The United Kingdom economy with its NHS failures and industry striking will mean that Rishi Sunak’s position is likely to remain weak and flawed. Pessimism seems to dominate the views of most of us in our outlook for the year, and that is largely due to the rising cost of living.
World security is at an all-time red alert risk, the general mood is one of anxiety and the world environment is on edge as they do not believe enough is being done to manage the climate change agenda. Even so, hope springs for us all as a new year means new promises.
Wishing you all the best of the coming 2023, the world economists have not witnessed the resolve of Zimbabweans to remain committed in spite of our economic woes. The ground may be shaky as we step forward, but there is always a way to enable one another with Fides, spes, caritas in latin translates to faith, hope and love - with them all we can change our outlook.
Joshi is a diversity, ethnicity, and inclusive activist. She writes in her own capacity. She is a lawyer by profession.