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Year replete with drama, confusion

THE curtain is coming down on 2012 and what was touted as a watershed year fizzled out to be nothing but one full of drama and confusion, especially on the political front.


Drama seemed to unfold almost every day, with squabbles among political parties and scandals involving senior leaders shaking the nation.

For the fourth year running, unending disputes among the coalition government partners, Zanu PF and the two MDCs over the implementation of outstanding Global Political Agreement (GPA) issues, dogged the nation with not much progress made.

The much anticipated new democratic constitution is still to materialise, as parties to the GPA are still haggling over the contents of a new draft charter for the country.

The Copac second All-Stakeholders’ Conference, which was initially expected to produce fireworks, failed to live up to expectations.
It did not come up with concrete decisions, with President Robert Mugabe insisting that the GPA principals and not Copac had the final say on the draft constitution before it goes for a referendum.

A cabinet committee has since been set up to break the deadlock in the constitution-making process.

But it was still to resolve contentious issues stalling the process, including the host of amendments which Zanu PF wants incorporated.
Zanu PF wants to retain Mugabe’s imperial powers and is against devolution of power, dual citizenship and the creation of an independent prosecuting authority.

The two MDC formations have so far refused to budge, maintaining that all the three parties to the GPA have already appended their signatures to the compromise document.

The Zanu PF conference held at the beginning of the month in Gweru at a new US$6,5 million convention centre, insisted that unless the constitution-making process was concluded before Christmas, Mugabe should call for an election under the current Constitution.

And again, Sadc continued to intervene in an attempt to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis.

For the better part of the year, Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have been threatening to call for elections in 2012 in the absence of credible reforms.

The party made several resolutions to end the GNU and hold elections this year. But Sadc pulled the plug on the plans.

A summit in Angola in June blocked Mugabe’s plans to hold elections before reforms. The summit resolved that the parties to the GPA should finalise the constitution-making process and subject it to the referendum, as well as develop an implementation mechanism and set out time frames to an agreed election road map.

Sadc was again to meet in Maputo in August, reiterating its position, that Zimbabwe’s warring parties should complete the constitution-making process and put it to a referendum in order to allow for free and fair elections to be held.

It was this summit, which confirmed MDC President Welshman Ncube as the third principal in the country ahead of Professor Arthur Mutambara, who is contesting the leadership of the party.

Mutambara reportedly attacked Sadc facilitator, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa during the Sadc Troika meeting, accusing him of side-lining him in favour of his in-law, Ncube. The regional bloc also met in Tanzania in December and reiterated its position on Zimbabwe.

Another highlight of the year was the inquest into former army commander, General Solomon Mujuru’s death. The inquest held at the Harare magistrate’s court took centre stage at the beginning of the year.

Witnesses proved that there were sharp contradictions and inconsistencies on the cause of the death of Mujuru in a mysterious fire in August last year, deepening suspicions of foul play.
But the coroner ruled that there was no evidence to prove foul play.
The Mujuru family lawyer, Thakor Kewada, described the verdict  that Mujuru died of carbonation as a mockery.

He demanded the exhumation of Mujuru’s remains to allow for a second autopsy by an independent pathologist, but the government is still to respond to the request.

The late general’s wife and Mugabe’s deputy, Joice, was to later shock the nation at his memorial service when she revealed that Mujuru was a philanderer who sired several children out of wedlock.
Fears continued to mount that the military would seize power in the event of Mugabe’s death or electoral defeat, with securocrats making several political statements.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Major General Martin Chedondo, stirred a storm when he said soldiers must be involved in national politics in order to remain “loyal and defend the nation’s territorial integrity and interests”.

Another top army general, Trust Mugoba, also said the military would not allow anyone who did not share the ideals of Zanu PF to lead the country.

Justice and Legal Affairs minister, Patrick Chinamasa, did not help the situation, telling the BBC that his party and the military would not accept Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s electoral victory.
Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo on the other hand, reportedly warned that it would be “messy” if Tsvangirai won.

He told South Africa’s e-News Channel Africa that hardliners would find it difficult to hand over power to the PM.

But calls by the MDC-T for the arrest of the two politicians on charges of plotting to subvert the will of the people fell on deaf ears.

Mugabe even controversially extended the terms of office of all service chiefs despite protests by Tsvangirai, who was not consulted.
Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri’s term of office was extended to 2014.

The terms of office for Commanders of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Constantine Chiwenga, Zimbabwe National Army Commander, Lieutenant General Philip Valerio Sibanda, Air Marshal Perrance Shiri and Commissioner of Prisons, Retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi, were also extended.

The performance of the MDC-T in the inclusive government came under spotlight in the wake of a recent survey, which showed that the party had lost support.

The results of the opinion poll by American think-tank, Freedom House, concluded that support for MDC-T plummeted from 38% in 2010 to 19% this year while that for Zanu PF grew from 17% to 31% over the same period.

There was controversy surrounding the forced takeover of the Save Conservancy by mostly Zanu PF politicians, who wanted to displace the local communities and their white partners.

The politicians, among them, the late Higher Education minister, Stan Mudenge, war veteran leader, Joseph Chinotimba and Masvingo governor, Titus Maluleke, were granted 25-year leases and hunting permits in a development that threatens efforts to rebuild Zimbabwe’s tourism sector.

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