By Prince Tongogara
The year 2014 once again like the past decade was dominated by political developments while the economy burned and social conditions of the poor further deteriorated.
The year had commenced on a hopeful note after the extraordinary events of 2013 – ZANU PF’s emphatic but disputed general election victory that sealed the fate of a five year mainly dysfunctional coalition government.
Many citizens despite reservations about the end of the coalition government remained expectant that 2014 would a year that would lay a foundation for taking the country on a new trajectory – a trajectory of economic recovery, consolidation of the country’s democracy and a change of fortune in the lives of the majority who have lived in poverty since the turn of the century.
However, with each passing month the illusions of change and improvement started dissipating, evaporating like morning dew in the summer heat. The nation witnessed the country sliding into a monarchy, the economy contracting and poverty levels among the poor deepening.
2014 can be viewed as the year of party splits, consolidation of power by political leaders and sterility of people’s hope that the current political parties can transform the country’s fortunes.
It was the year contemporary political luminaries like former Vice President Joice Mujuru, Didymus Mutasa, liberation struggle stalwart Rugare Gumbo and war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda were unceremoniously stripped of their powers into ordinary card carrying members of ZANU PF.
In their place came the naïve First Lady Grace Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa’s arrival at the top table via a presidential appointment.
MDC-T’s national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa rising star dimmed and crashed to the ground at the congress. He lost in his bid to become the secretary general to Douglas Mwonzora in a devastating manner after bagging 11 nominations go into the congress.
On the other hand the opposition MDC-T split for the second time in less than a decade over the same accusation of Morgan Tsvangirai’s dictatorial tendencies. The splinter group led by Secretary General Tendai Biti and Treasurer General Elton Mangoma rechristened itself MDC Renewal.
It is also noteworthy that after the two main parties’ congresses in October and December respectively, their leaders Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe emerged with imperial powers.
The only positive on the political front was the unification of the MDC Renewal and MDC led by Welshman Ncube. The united party for now is known as the United Movement for Democratic Change (UMDC) and will hold its inaugural congress in August 2015.
Other smaller parties like Mavambo and the Lovemore Madhuku led NCA sporadically came into public limelight through a press statement or a court action against the government.
ZANU PF like the coalition government pursued the neo-liberal International Monetary Fund (IMF) Staff Monitoring Programme (SMP) a structural adjustment policy by another name after the dismal failure of Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) in the early 1990.
The country continued on the dollarization path introduced during coalition government to stabilize the economy after a decade of hyperinflation that started in 1997 reaching its peak in 2008.
While dollarization may have kept the cost of goods down they remained out of reach for the majority poor who earn less than the Poverty Datum Line of $502 per month for a family of six.
The situation has been further compounded by the continued closure of companies due to cash liquidity challenges and the world highest interest rates of above 20% per annum.
More than 11 000 people were retrenched in the 2014 calendar year according to labour unions bringing the total to a staggering 55 000 retrenched in the last five years.
The deteriorating economic condition is further evidenced by the proliferation of informal trading that has invaded all urban centres and in the process making Harare central business district one impassable flea market.
The majority of urban residents are finding life difficult each passing day as they struggle to pay for their pre-paid electricity, water and rising housing rentals. This has invariably led to the mushrooming of new informal settlements on the periphery of cities. These settlements have no potable water or sanitary facilities therefore becoming health time-bombs in case there is a typhoid or cholera epidemic.
The country is also witnessing an upsurge in sexual transmitted diseases and alcohol and drug abuse by the army of unemployed and in some instances unemployable youths.
As the curtain falls on 2014, the Zimbabwe prospects in 2015 are not rose as there is no coherent political party or political will among the politicians to grapple with the real problems affecting the citizens besides their contests for political power.
In the end it remains a situation what William Shakespeare called ‘a lot of sound and fury but signifying nothing’.