HomeLocalA lame GNU, controversial diamonds plus twists, surprises

A lame GNU, controversial diamonds plus twists, surprises

Cracks in the wobbly inclusive government continued to widen last year to a point that Zanu PF and the Movement for Democratic Change led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai started calling for fresh elections.

The two parties that agreed to form the three-party coalition government in February 2009, disagreed on almost everything forcing South African President Jacob Zuma to send his team of facilitators to Harare on several trips that yielded almost nothing.

Zanu PF retreated into its shell refusing to honour its part of the bargain. The party insisted that the MDC-T must first actively call for the lifting of sanctions imposed on some state-owned companies and President Robert Mugabe’s cronies.

The so-called outstanding issues of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) widen from three to about 27 as new areas of disagreement emerged.

In April the differences between the two parties became more apparent when Tsvangirai and his ministers boycotted the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair because Mugabe had invited Iranian President Mohammed Ahmadinejad to officially open the annual showcase.

Tsvangirai denounced the visit as bad for Zimbabwe’s image because of Ahmadinejad’s human rights record and his status as an international outlaw.
MDC-T issued a very rabid statement calling the Iranian leader a “warmonger, a trampler of human rights and executioner.”

Another controversial figure, Julius Malema of South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC), also jetted into the country in a visit that caused further disharmony in political circles after his attacks on MDC-T and his open support for Mugabe.

ANC had to call Malema to order after his antics.

The following month Mugabe’s commitment to the inclusive government was once again tested when the High Court acquitted MDC-T treasurer-general Roy Bennett of treason charges.

Mugabe had been using the treason charges as an excuse not to swear in Bennett as deputy Agriculture minister.

Justice Chinembiri Bhunu ruled that the State had failed to prove there was reasonable grounds to put Bennett to his defence on the terrorism charges.

Bennett is yet to be sworn in and Mugabe has made it clear that his race is an issue.

There was a glimmer of hope in May when the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) licenced five new newspapers included NewsDay owned by Alpha Media Holdings.

NewsDay hit the streets a few weeks later becoming the first privately owned daily since the popular Daily News was forced to shut in 2001 by the government.

ZMC was one the three commissions that were formally appointed in March as part of the agreement that underpins the unity government. Others are the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

In June Tsvangirai took the nation by surprise when he fired influential ministers from his party that included Elias Mudzuri (Energy and Power Development) and Fidelis Mhashu (National Housing) after a “performance appraisal”.

Others were redeployed and new appointments were made in a move that was seen as an attempt to deal with factionalism and a threat to Tsvangirai’s leadership.

The month also saw the dramatic arrest of controversial Zanu PF businessman Temba Mliswa after he launched a blistering attack on police commissioner general Augustine Chihuri whom he accused of corruption.

Mliswa endured several weeks in notorious police cells around Harare and at one time faced more than 72 charges, which were related to property seized from former white farmers and a company he tried to grab from a British national.

As the charges continue to fall by the way side in the courts many now believe that the cases were politically motivated.

Others saw it as a test to the chaotic land reform programme and predicted that the case would not go anywhere as its success would have serious implications on Zanu PF “chefs” who looted equipment from the fleeing commercial farmers.

The long-awaited outreach programme to solicit for people’s views on the new constitution was also off to a chaotic start in June as some meetings especially in Harare were cancelled because of violence blamed on Zanu PF supporters.

The poorly-funded programme is way behind schedule and a referendum is now expected sometime in September. The new charter must be in place before fresh elections are held.

August was an eventful month for Zimbabwean politics.

The country started selling diamonds from Marange after it was given the green light by the Kimberly Process to carry three supervised auctions.
But the dirty politics surrounding the rich diamond fields became more intriguing as the year drew to a close with the KP refusing to sanction more sales.

Corruption also muddied the industry with government withdrawing the license of one of the three companies that formed a joint venture with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), Mbada.

The company’s directors were arrested in connection with the alleged fraud. ZMDC executives were also picked up by the police and their cases are now before the courts.

African Consolidated Resources (ACR), which claims ownership of the Marange diamonds also continued to fight in the courts to get its claims back.

The death of Mugabe’s sister, Sabina and MDC founder Gibson Sibanda also went a long way in showing that Zimbabwe still remains a divided nation.

The deaths re-ignited debate on the conferment of hero status after Zanu PF elected to deny Sibanda the status only to award it to Mugabe’s sister.

The debate gained momentum in October when Zanu PF granted hero status to former Matabeleland North governor Welshman Mabhena only for his family to refuse to hand over his body for burial at the Heroes Acre.

The Mabhenas said the late outspoken politician who was ostracised by Mugabe for speaking against the underdevelopment of Matabeleland had made it clear that he did not want to be buried alongside “thieves” at the national shrine.

In September government erected a controversial statue of the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo in Bulawayo only to pull it down a month later after the family rejected it.

The family said the North Korean made statue was not a true reflection of the larger-than-life politician.

Efforts to erect another statue in Harare created more controversy after a company went to the High Court claiming ownership of the piece of land near Karigamombe centre which had been set aside for the project.

Matabeleland-based politicians also argued that erecting the statue near Karigamombe would be an insult to Nkomo because the name was associated with the “swallowing” of PF Zapu by Zanu PF.

The relationship between Mugabe and Tsvangirai continued to deteriorate to a point that the two leaders stopped having their traditional meetings to review the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

Zuma was forced to visit the country in November to talk to the two leaders and impressed upon them the need to work on a roadmap for fresh elections which must be held this year.

A meeting of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to deal with the Zimbabwe crisis that had been set for Botswana was cancelled.

Sadc is the mediator in the Zimbabwe crisis and another meeting of its organ on politics and security is now set for Zambia in the New Year to deal with the region’s hotspots.

Zimbabwe’s politics was shaken once again when the whistleblower website WikiLeaks started releasing secret United States documents that gave a glimpse of what American diplomats think of our politicians.

Zanu PF used the dispatches to call for Tsvangirai’s arrest on treason charges for allegedly calling for sanctions against Zimbabwe in private discussions.

The leaks also gave Zanu PF cannon fodder for what would have passed as another talk show at its national conference last month.

The party passed a resolutions calling for a law to punish Zimbabweans campaigning for sanctions against the country.

Mugabe also used the conference to step up his rhetoric against the West as he threatened to grab American and British companies in retaliation against the sanctions.

The conference also saw the bouncing back of a politician most Zimbabweans especially journalists would love to hate.

Jonathan Moyo was recalled into the Zanu PF politburo and there is already speculation that he would be made Media, Information and Publicity

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