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2018 in seven key global events

Tendai H. Manzvanzvike  Foreign Editor
A number of pivotal events made 2018 a very colourful year on the global stage. These were events that affected the world — for better or for worse.

Since Zimbabwe is not an island, most of what happened impacted the country directly and indirectly.

Global events are worth noting as Zimbabwe’s new dispensation embarked on a re-engagement and engagement exercise under the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra.

Below are some of top world stories of 2018:

  1. Leadership change in SA

When South Africa’s ruling African National Congress held its 54th National Conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg in December 2017, it was known that former President Jacob Zuma was bowing out of the leadership of the continent’s oldest liberation movement, but it was not clear who his successor would be.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and former African Union Commission chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma were the front-runners.

Intra-party factionalism, which was also a cancer in Zimbabwe’s governing zanu-pf party was prevalent in the ANC. But Ramaphosa emerged the victor, burying the family political dynasty that had threatened Zimbabwe in 2017.

Barely two months after Ramaphosa ascended to the ANC presidency did incumbent President Zuma resign, following mounting pressure from the party, the opposition and the public. Some in the ANC thought that allowing him to complete his second term would be a liability since South Africa goes to the polls in the first half of 2019.

Former president Zuma resigned on the night of February 14 (Valentine’s Day), the very day the founding leader of the Movement for Democratic Change Morgan Tsvangirai passed on in a South African hospital.

Several theories have been floated around about the coincidental events and what they mean for the neighbouring countries.

For South Africa, the departure of Zuma from the centre of power opened a Pandora’s box for him and his cronies. Graft cases against the ex-president  and some members of his family are currently before the courts.

Apart from corruption, state capture by the Gupta brothers also hogged the limelight during the Zuma administration. The Ramaphosa administration has since instituted a Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture. Revelations from the Commission have led to the resignation of the former finance minister Nhlahla Nene and others.

How many more will beat the dust by the time South Africa goes to the polls? What lessons have African governments learnt from the State capture saga?

  1. Land expropriation without compensation

One of the hanging fruits, waiting to be picked up from the Nasrec Conference is South Africa’s desire to expropriate land currently in white hands, without compensation.

The ANC government might argue that they are not doing it the Zimbabwean way, but the bottom line is that they have realised that this most prized possession belongs to the people, not a privileged group.

After consultations, the majority of South African political parties agreed that the Constitution be amended to incorporate a clause that land should be expropriated without compensation.

Like the MDC Alliance, the Afrikaner lobby group AfriForum has been to the United States of America and other Western nations, leading president Donald Trump make the infamous tweet of August 23 saying, “I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. ‘South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.’”

Namibia’s SWAPO Government has followed suit and held a land summit in October, where they agreed that they will also expropriate land without compensation.

  1. Goodbye Madikizela-Mandela, Annan, the Bushes

2018 will also go in the annals of history, as a year when high-profile figures passed on and their lives were beautifully celebrated.

On April 2, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the apartheid struggle stalwart and former wife of South Africa’s first democratic president Nelson Mandela died aged 81. The firebrand Mother of the Nation was mourned by people from all corners of the globe. Even in death, Winnie remained a controversial figure, for she demonstrated that heroism is self-earned.

Madikizela-Mandela showed that long after divorcing Mandela, she remained relevant in the making of South Africa. Winnie’s legacy among future generations looms large as most claimed, #I am Winnie.

On August 18, Africa lost another prominent son, Ghanaian-born and top diplomat Kofi Annan who served as the United Nations’ Secretary General from 1997 to 2006. He served the UN for a five-decade period.

Mr Annan died a month after his team of Elders visited Zimbabwe to monitor its state of preparedness for the July 30 harmonised elections.

His distinguished service at the global body was praised by world leaders, including President Mnangagwa who said in a statement, “Amongst other notable milestones, Mr Annan led the UN in winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for his and the UN’s sterling efforts in peace initiatives throughout the world.”

And, on the eve of Zimbabwe’s 38th Independence anniversary – Barbara Bush, United States’ former First Lady died at 92. Her husband of 73 years George H. W Bush, who was the US 41st president also died on November 30.

Although Bush followed the straitjacket American foreign policy, he succeeded in creating a political family dynasty, which the Clintons failed to achieve.

Another high profile personality who died in 2018 is rebel turned opposition party leader Afonso Dhlakama of RENAMO, who passed away on May 3 and was accorded a State funeral.

Following his death, the Frelimo government is implementing some of issues they agreed with, in order to unify the nation.

The music industry also lost giants like Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul.

  1. AFRICAN WOMEN RISING

2018 is the year that saw African women realizing that when the political will is there, they can easily occupy decision-making positions.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who came to power in April 2018 has made major strides to ensure that there is gender parity among decision-makers in all three arms of his government.

Like President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Abiy Ahmed has ensured that his cabinet has a 50:50 ratio of men and women. He is walking the letter and spirit of gender parity as suggested by the United Nations.

  1. BREXIT: AN ACRIMONIOUS DIVORCE

In March 2019, the United Kingdom will cease to be a member of the European Union, a bloc it joined in 1973. When the “Yes” vote prevailed on June 23, 2016 it meant that there was no turning back.

It cost the Britain leaders including David Cameron and many cabinet ministers who have been resigning.

The million dollar question is whether Prime Minister Theresa May survive until March 2019?

The acrimony so far seen in Britain’s pull-out is a major lesson on regional blocs and the reconfiguration of global power, especially when it involves, inter- and intra-trade; and, migration.

An important question is whether Brexit is a factor in the recent “Yellow Vests” protests in France, and Hungary’s controversial “slave law”, including the anti-migration stance in most Western countries?

How will these impact Zimbabwe, the SADC region and the African continent? China, Russia, India, the EU, US, France, Germany, etc – all want a major stake of Africa over and above what they already have.

A divorced Britain will also seek to re-engage. Is Africa ready for the coming onslaught?

  1. THE #MeToo MOVEMENT

Sexual harassment and assault by men who use power and means was another major global issue, with activists using the hashtag #MeToo. This resulted in a number of powerful men being fingered and indicted, while some cases are being investigated.

One of the most famous sex offenders to be convicted is former stand-up comedian William (Bill) Henry Cosby who was convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

Cosby is serving three to ten years, and is expected to be released on September 25, 2021.

The #MeToo proved that sex offenders can run, but they cannot hide. But will it have an impact in Africa, since other continents have seen women rallying behind the hashtag in order to bring sex offenders to book?

  1. CLIMATE CHANGE, ETC

Last weekend’s Press statement by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Perrance Shiri on the 2018-19 agricultural season is testimony that climate change is one the most serious challenges of the 21st century. It is affecting everyone, everywhere.

Natural disasters that include earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, heatwave, droughts were some of the challenges faced in 2018. The Paris Climate Agreement needs urgent implementation.

Terrorism also remained an issue of concern with analysts predicting that groups such as ISIS will find a home in sub-Saharan Africa in the coming years. Jihadists have already been operating in northern Mozambique.

2018 has also witnessed unprecedented peace summits in the Korean Peninsula. Through efforts by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held a number of meetings with his southern counterpart, including US president Donald Trump.

This is I sneak preview of key international events in 2018, the majority of which will shape Zimbabwe’s place on the international stage.

Source : The Herald

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