By Luke Tamborinyoka
Arsenal’s emphatic win over Chelsea at the Emirates stadium on Boxing day lifted my spirits in a tenuous and gloomy year in which the despondent people of this country were boxed down mainly by the twin evils of a global pandemic and an inept regime with a penchant for repression and violence.
The year 2020 was just an unforgettable year that has etched its own unique space in the history of humankind, particularly for the weatherbeaten people of this our beloved country.
For lovers of the world’s most beautiful game, records were either made or broken in this tumultuous year. Liverpool’s 7-0 trouncing of Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park was the first time the Reds have won an away match in the English top flight by a margin of seven goals in their illustrious history.
This year will also go down in history as the year in which football talisman Lionel Messi, who is having a bad season by his own lofty standards, scored his 643rd goal for Barcelona to equal football legend Pele’s record of goals for a single club which the Brazilian star achieved at Santos.
Otherwise for most Zimbabweans, the year 2020, which ended only a few hours ago, will go down in history as a year to forget. Given our collective nightmarish experience as a nation in 2020, it was shocking last night to watch and hear Mr Mnangagwa in his televised address telling Zimbabweans the country had just had a successful and a productive year.
The man must certainly be living in a different world. And he most certainly must have lived a different year from the one lived by all of us.
It was a wicked year in which the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the world, leaving in its wake almost two million graves and more battered and bereaved souls. This is not to mention dislocated livelihoods and locked down means of survival.
By last night, Zimbabwe had officially lost 360 innocent souls to the pandemic, with the actual figure presumed to be far much higher. Israel Murefu, the president of the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ), says more than 30 percent of formal jobs were lost in the Covid-19-induced lockdown.
The pandemic-induced lockdowns in this eventful year managed to lock down livelihoods, particularly in highly informalised economies such as ours, where most transactional activities now take place by the roadside and on the street pavements where teeming vendors have resorted to eking a living through the rigour of honest, hard work.
2020 was a bad year in which wicked governments such as the regime in Harare took advantage of the lockdowns to display their callousness. Soldiers were wheeled out of the barracks purportedly to enforce the Covid-19 lockdown when the actual intention was to suppress citizen rights, particularly the rights related to free movement, expression and political choice.
No one was spared in the 2020 clampdown as evidenced by the spate of State-sponsored abductions, murders, arbitrary arrests and the gross interference in the work and mandates of independent institutions.
Journalists, judges, MPs, lawyers, the church, political and civic activists all had a torrid time under the Mnangagwa regime in 2020. For the first time in the history of this country, a global campaign dubbed # ZimbabweanLivesMatter became a strident and sonorous chorus across mother Earth as the world stood in solidarity with the repressed people of Zimbabwe.
In 2020, we had SADC, the AU, the UN, the church mainly through the Catholic bishops as well as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission all condemning the State-instigated gross human rights violations in Zimbabwe. The regime responded by stating that all these esteemed institutions had been captured by the British.
Perhaps the stand-out insidious event of 2020 was what became known as the infamous Covid-19 Supreme Court judgement. The judgment inadvertently transferred the July 2018 electoral votes from a political party called the MDC Alliance to a regime surrogate called MDC-T or MDC-Thoko, which name has now further morphed to MDC-Togaraseyi (Mwonzora).
The highly political judgement was a deliberate ploy by the regime to decimate the MDC Alliance by stripping the party of its human and material assets. The 2018 vote was reversed, the MDC Alliance party headquarters was grabbed and handed to the regime’s stooges while the people’s MPs and councillors were recalled by a party they had defeated.
But despite the vicious body blows, the people’s party and its leader Nelson Chamisa remain standing to this day only because they are the true repository of the people’s hopes and aspirations.
The interference with autonomous and independent institutions has intensified under the Mnangagwa regime. We even had judges writing a letter complaining about the gross interference in their work. What stood out in this blight of interference in the work of independent institutions was when we had the Minister of Health suspending elections in the country, in the process brazenly usurping the powers of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
But while by-elections and other gatherings to entrench democracy were banned, purportedly for fear of spreading the Covid-19, Zanu PF’s DCC elections and Mnangagwa’s rallies were allowed to proceed. Even the circus of an extraordinary Congress by the regime’s surrogates has just been allowed to take place.
Covid-19 the pandemic brought about Covidgate, the corruption angle to the pandemic, most of it linked to the well-heeled elite. Mnangagwa’s blood relatives and those around him were caught up in the corruption scandals. Stephen Tserayi, Henrietta Rushwaya, Obediah Moyo and many others were fingered in shady deals, some of them linked to the First family.
The year 2020 was the year in which the regime practically demonstrated its despicable position on women. Barely four days after Mothers’ Day, the day in which the world celebrates the chastity of women and mothers, the Mnangagwa regime brutally assaulted, abused and abducted MDC Alliance activists Cecilia Chimbiri, Netsai Marova and Joannah Mamombe, an elected MP. The world was appalled.
The year 2020 was the year in which the military over-reach stretched to the broadcasting sector, further raising the tempo in the call for security sector reforms. The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe in November awarded six television licences, two of them to media houses with links to the military.
The two television licences, among the six, were given to Rusununguko Holdings and Fairtalk Communications, both with links to the military. Armed with the experience of Sibusiso Moyo, who became a temporary news anchor at ZBC in the early hours of 15 November 2017 during the coup, the military probably presumed itself ready to run its own television stations.
The dignity of civil servants, particularly those in the health and education sectors, hit new lows in the year 2020. Teachers, nurses and doctors are on the frontline in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic but this inept government has dismally failed to provide them with both a living wage and the requisite PPEs.
It has been quite a tenuous year in which we in the democratic movement have lost comrades and and senior party members, among them Hon. Miriam Mushayi, a member of the National Standing Committee. Our President, Advocate Nelson Chamisa also lost his mother in this difficult year.
Our mayors, councillors and party leaders across the country have been brutalised and victimised. The mayor for Harare, Clr Jacob Mafume, is currently in prison on trumped-up charges.
It has just been a tenuous year in many respects. Ginimbi and Gringo are gone, taken away from us by the grim spectre of death.
We are ending a brutal year with the smell of death and destruction yet again in the air. After cyclone Idai, which killed people and destroyed livelihoods, cyclone Chalane has bared her deadly fangs once again. There is just no respite for the wretched and despondent people of this land.
And yet there lies a lot of hope ahead: a new year, a new paradigm and new settings. We have for long played and transacted our politics in predictable fora. Perhaps in this new year, it’s time to change turf. We must now act the action. All bark and no bite serves not much purpose.
Perhaps this is the year to show our teeth.
For now, it ain’t no goodbye to the year 2020. It’s a badbye to a bad year!
Luke Tamborinyoka is the Deputy Secretary for Presidential Affairs in the MDC Alliance led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa . He is a multiple award-winning journalist who was once elected and served as the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists.
Tamborinyoka also served as spokesperson for almost 10 years to the country’s democracy icon , Morgan Tsvangirai , until the latter’s death in 2018 . He has just graduated with a Master of Science degree in International Relations at the University of Zimbabwe.
He is an ardent political scientist who won the Book Prize for Best Student when he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Political Science at the University of Zimbabwe .
You can interact with him on Facebook or on the twitter handle @ luke_tambo .