Ordinary Zimbabweans say they found the year 2014 bitterly challenging in the wake of a crippling economy coupled with unemployment, for which they blame the ruling Zanu PF party, and opposition and civil society for failing to hold the government accountable.
Despite promising more than two million jobs in the 2013 elections, many Zimbabweans saw 2014 come to an end without jobs as companies continued to shutdown, revealing signs of a worsening economy.
Many say the Zanu PF government and President Robert Mugabe seemed concerned with dousing succession fires within the party than tackling more critical national issues such as reviving the economy.
With many now forced to find their own employment, in what former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai termed a “nation of vendors”, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions’ Young Workers Council member, Godfrey Mutimba, says his main worry in 2014 was the ruling party’s failure to live up to its promise of creating jobs.
Former students’ leader, Clever Bere, echoes the same sentiments, adding that the nation expected a lot from the Zanu PF government but nothing came out and if anything, the situation got worse.
Their views are supported by former top treasury employee and economist, Masimba Manyanya, who believes that the ruling party has failed to turn around the economy as all targets set in the budget were missed.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa projected that the economy would grow by at least 6 percent when he initially presented the country’s national budget but the government downgraded the figure to just over 3 percent within eight months.
The International Monetary Fund also indicated that Zimbabwe was likely to grow by almost 2.5 percent in 2014 saying the situation remained difficult in the country with deflation, lack of foreign direct investment, inconsistent investment policies and other factors undercutting the ailing economy.
While the economy was sliding further, the Zanu PF party dumped then Vice President Joice Mujuru in the run-up to its congress following party allegations that she was corrupt, and wanted to unseat President Mugabe unconstitutionally.
Some Zimbabweans say the sacking of Mrs. Mujuru and her allies, who included other top party and government officials like Didymus Mutasa, Rugare Gumbo, Nicholas Goche and others ahead of the congress early this month, did not raise any hopes of a better future in the country.
Ordinary people like Wakefield Mlilo don’t believe the firing of Mrs. Mujuru and ministers will resolve the country’s economic crisis.
Manyanya adds that there is no reason why the ruling party and government kept Mrs. Mujuru in office for 10 years if she was corrupt and incompetent.
Bere says he is disappointed that the Zanu PF congress failed to deal with corruption as some of the people widely believed to be corrupt had been elevated.
STABILITY IN ZIMBABWE
Zanu PF member, Bright Matonga, said there is stability in Zimbabwe. “Of course cash has been a problem but we have goods on the shelves.
“We hope investigations will done so that you boost the issue that ministers can be fired, senior government officials can be fired. It’s actually a confidence booster to the local and the outsiders.”
For the first time since independence in 1980, Mugabe fired his deputy and 16 ministers and deputies claiming they were corrupt and had hatched a plan to topple him. Most of them have denied any wrong-doing.
On the other hand, some Zimbabweans rapped opposition parties for failing to take advantage of the fragmented Zanu PF party to build a powerful supporters’ base and turn around the fortunes of the country.
They attacked former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for failing to mobilize people to protest against the declining economy due to fissures in his own party, which led to the formation of the MDC Renewal Team. Then secretary general Tendai Biti, deputy treasurer Elton Mangoma and several top party leaders spearheaded the split.
The splinter group accused Tsvangirai of being an alleged dictator and no longer following the party’s set goals when it was formed in 1999. The group has since teamed up with another MDC party lead by Professor Welshman Ncube, in an attempt to form a formidable opposition party.
Manyanya says the opposition in Zimbabwe is too weak at present to mount any serious challenge to President Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.
But Tsvangirai argues that he is ready to join hands with other opposition parties to form one strong united front and challenge Mugabe’s rule.
Political parties like Transform Zimbabwe and the African Democratic Party led by Marceline Chikasha were formed in 2014 as the fight for democracy continued in Zimbabwe.
It remains to be seen what these parties will do in 2015 as the country is set to hold the next general election in 2018. Zanu PF has already declared that President Mugabe will be the party’s presidential candidate. He will be 94 years old at that time.