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2018: A remarkable year indeed

Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The 2018 political calendar was characterised by a hive of activity, some of which will remain etched in the archives of the country’s history as they were both intriguing and at the very least unique.

Some of the political activities that were recorded in 2018 included the harmonised elections, tussle for control of the MDC Alliance following the death of its founding leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, Government’s anti-graft blitz that saw political bigwigs falling into the dragnet.

Others include probably former president Mugabe’s first public appearance  at his mother-in-law’s funeral and the Commission of Inquiry into the August 1 post-election violence that claimed six lives, injured several people and left a trail of destruction.

Of all these activities for the year under review, it is the July 30, 2018 harmonised elections which took centre stage in terms of prominence and the manner in which they were conducted.

This year’s elections were a clear departure from all other polls held since 2002 in that national and international observers were allowed.

Many people that included MDC Alliance, foreign observers and even some in ZANU-PF were surprised when President Mnangagwa went against the usual tide and invited foreign observers such as the European Union, who were last in the country in 2002 before they were banished by the old dispensation led by former president Mugabe for their partiality towards the opposition.

When President Mnangagwa pledged to invite foreign observers whose relationship with Harare had been frosty, some people did not believe him since they were used to having organisations and countries deemed as Zimbabwe’s allies.

They only believed it when letters of invitation were sent out before the foreign observers trooped into the country to observe the polls.

Another major feature of the elections was the peaceful environment in which they were held.

President Mnangagwa was unequivocal in his resolve to have a peaceful election so much that the hallmark of his speech was to preach peace.

Never would one hear President Mnangagwa and other senior party officials chant slogans like “Pasi neMDC” as they would simply say “Pasi neMhandu”.

This demonstrated that he wanted to walk the talk on a non-violent campaign.

ZANU-PF eventually trounced MDC Alliance after it secured a comfortable two thirds majority leaving the opposition coalition wondering what had hit them.

Of course, the 2018 harmonised elections were to suffer a dent on August 1 when an MDC Alliance- incited demonstration degenerated into violence, which claimed six lives and left several others injured.

This eventually saw President Mnangagwa setting up a Commission of Inquiry led by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Last Tuesday President Mnangagwa made public the report of the Motlanthe Commission as promised at the ZANU-PF Annual National People’s Conference in Esigodini, Matabeleland South Province.

It noted that utterances by leaders of some political parties could have incited people to demonstrate on the day in question. It also concluded that there were individuals with firearms besides the police and the military.

Another incident that characterised the 2018 political calendar was the tussle for control of the MDC-T following Mr Tsvangirai’s death from cancer of the colon at a South African hospital.

The first tale-tell signs of trouble were evident  his burial when then deputy president Dr Thokozani Khupe and other senior party officials were subjected to violence, so much that the notorious party militant group known by the monicker “Vanguard” threatened to burn the hut in which they had taken refuge.

After Dr Khupe eventually broke away to retain the name MDC-T, there was a tussle between co-vice presidents Mr Nelson Chamisa, Engineer Elias Mudzuri and secretary-general Mr Douglas Mwonzora with Mr Chamisa managing to grab power well before Mr Tsvangirai had been buried and the bickering is still simmering to this day as the party heads towards its elective congress.

2018 marked the beginning of an anti-graft blitz that saw political bigwigs, including former Cabinet ministers, being hauled to the courts. They include Messrs Ignatious Chombo, Walter Mzembi, Samuel Undenge, Saviour Kasukuwere, Supa Mandiwanzira and Psychology Maziwisa, among others.

Their cases are still to be concluded.

One other political events that dominated the national discourse was the reappearance of Mr Mugabe at the funeral of his mother-in-law, Mbuya Idah Marufu.

Mr Mugabe, who struggled to walk and stand, told mourners at his Blue Roof mansion that he now recognised the leadership of President Mnangagwa after he trounced his closest rival, Mr Chamisa.

Mr Mugabe, who on the eve of the harmonised elections had thrown his support behind Mr Chamisa, had to eat humble pie after he realised he had backed the wrong horse.

He said President Mnangagwa’s leadership was legitimate following his election victory and he had no problem working with him.

His wife, Grace had to dig deeper into her bag of superlatives to describe President Mnangagwa and his leadership, a significant shift from  the time she used to demonise him during rallies last year before the resignation of her husband on the back of impending impeachment proceedings by Parliament.

After everything is said and done, the 2018 political calendar was packed to the brim and one can only hope for a better 2019 in terms of spurring efforts to move the country forward.

Source : The Herald

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