THE curtain comes down on 2018 this Monday. It has been indisputably an eventful year for Zimbabwe, punctuated with attention-grabbing events, mainly on the political and economic front.
Zimbabweans endured a lot and as we enter 2019, many will be hopeful that things will change for the better. However, looking back in 2018, there were five notable events worth highlighting. The July 30 harmonised elections, post election violence, surprise faces in the new cabinet, the 2019 national budget proposals and the two cents per dollar tax.
Undoubtedly, the major highlight of 2018 have been the July 30 harmonised elections won resoundingly by Zanu -PF while its First Secretary and President, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa beat his closest rival, MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa in the presidential race.
Things took a twist when Mr Chamisa went on to challenge the validity of the presidential election, which he claimed was rigged in favour of President Mnangagwa. The MDC-Alliance leader raised a host of allegations, including alleged vote-buying, ghost polling stations, denial of 40 000 teachers the right to vote, skewed media coverage by the public media and inflation of figures among others.
But Chief Justice Luke Malaba — sitting with eight other Constitutional Court judges — found no fault with the conduct of the 2018 harmonised elections, and upheld President Mnangagwa’s victory in the July 30 harmonised elections. He ruled that the petition by MDC-Alliance leader was deficient of evidence to buttress his litany of poll rigging claims. The Chief Justice’s contended that the failure by Mr Chamisa and his lawyers to produce primary evidence substantiating the rigging claims was fatal to the case.
Sadly, there was post election violence on August 1, which left six people dead and destroyed property estimated at millions of dollars. A Commission of Inquiry set up by President Mnangagwa to investigate the fracas concluded that the violence was pre-planned and that deployment of the military was justified. The commission was chaired by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe.
The other highlight of 2018 is President Mnangagwa’s new cabinet, which surprised and silenced his critics. Professor Mthuli Ncube, a respected international economist who has worked at some of the most prominent institutions in the world, was appointed Minister of Finance and Economic Development. Other surprise new names unknown to many were industrialist Mangaliso Ndlovu to the Industry and Commerce Ministry and Dr Obadiah Moyo to Health and Child Care Ministry.
Another big surprise was Kirsty Coventry, a former swimmer and world record holder, and the country’s most decorated Olympian, who was appointed as the new Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation.
The 2019 national budget presented by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube is another highlight of the year. Under the theme “Austerity for Prosperity”, the budget seeks to stabilise the economy and build a solid foundation for a prosperous economy in line with Vision 2030.
Some of the highlights of the budget are; private vehicles import duty will now be paid in foreign currency, five percent salary cut for Government senior officers right up to the Presidium. There will be biometric registration for all civil servants from 1 January 2019 to flush out ghost workers.
The two cents per dollar tax announced earlier by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube before the national budget is another economic highlight of 2018. The tax applies to transactions of $10 and above only.
A myriad of economic challenges, such as fuel and foreign currency shortages, have also gripped the country in 2018, while prices of most goods have spiralled. President Mnangagwa has however been forthright, warning that the process of national renewal and recovery would come with some pain.
Noted the President: “There is so much more to be done and there will be further bumps along the road. I am aware that many will have a difficult Christmas. I encourage all of us to be patient, resilient and to work harder in collective unity, as we create a better, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe for all.’’
As a country, we have so many expectations in the New Year despite the trials and tribulations of 2018. We must therefore put our hands and heads together, and work in unison, so that Zimbabwe will reclaim its rightful position on the globe.