By Farai Chirimumimba
For President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 2019 has been a year of constant turmoil. On the economic front, he has presided over perpetual failure as he has increasingly relied on his own instincts and underperforming cabinet. In just the last few months, a massive strike by junior doctors has paralysed the health sector. Lawyer Alex Magaisa writes: “for all the shortcomings of his two-year-old administration, Emmerson Mnangagwa might have been excused by many Zimbabweans and might have been glorified as a hero, had he performed a Houdini Act on the economy.”
Here’s a look at the major events — some high, some low — that have undoubtedly shaped Mr. Mnangagwa’s thinking heading into 2020.
- President Emmerson Mnangagwa announces the biggest fuel price hike, a 150% increase, which sparked deadly protests by financially struggling Zimbaweans that left more than a dozen people dead after an army clampdown.
- The government and businesses shut down for at least five days starting on January 14. Days later President Emmerson Mnangagwa was forced cut short a trip to Europe after violent protests in his home. He also skips Davos.
- On 18 February 2019, as a Lieutenant General (rtd), Anselem Sanyatwe became Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Tanzania. As Brigadier Anselem Sanyatwe, commander of the Presidential Guard, Sanyatwe was the tactical commander of the force deployed on 1 August 2018, to deal with demonstrations following the July elections. Six people were killed.
- The central bank devalues the local RTGS currency and pegged it at 2,5 against the United States dollar from 1:1 and Zimrtgs.
- On 1 March government gazette Statutory Instrument 32 of 2019, ushering in the new currency, RTGS dollar (ZWL)
- On the night of 14 to 15 March Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall near Beira City, Sofala Province, in central Mozambique. Cyclone Idai continued across land as a Tropical Storm and hit eastern Zimbabwe with heavy rains and strong winds on 16 March. The storm caused high winds and heavy precipitation in Chimanimani and Chipinge districts causing riverine and flash flooding and subsequent deaths, destruction of livelihoods and properties.
- Outrage over the government slow response to Cyclone Idai emergency swept the country, prompting the administration to launch an aggressive defence.
In Harare, thousands gathered at the giant National Sports Stadium where President Emmerson Mnangagwa called for a collective effort to turn around the country’s socio-economic fortunes and achieve the vision 2030 objective of becoming an upper middle income economy.
- Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa ‘not ready for genuine dialogue’ said former finance minister Tendai Biti in an exclusive interview with DW.
- Mnangagwa meet visiting Dr John Pombe Magufuli, the President of Tanzania.
- The government renamed its interim currency, the RTGS dollar, the Zimbabwe dollar and made it the country’s sole legal tender. That ended a decade of dollarisation.
- Finance minister Mthuli Ncube announce that ZIMSTATS will stop releasing year-to-year inflation figures until February 2020.
- The Zanu PF youth league produce a list of people it accused of corruption and demanded that action be taken against them. Topping the list were Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu, Tourism minister Prisca Mupfumira, Presidential Affairs Minister Jorum Gumbo and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya.
- The United States placed on its sanctions list a former Zimbabwean army general Presidential Guard commander Lieutanant-General Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe (rtd) who commanded troops accused of killing six civilians on 1 August 2018 after a disputed election. His wife Chido was also added to the sanctions list.
- Zimbabwe’s energy regulator has raised petrol and diesel prices by up to 16%, the fourth increase this year.
- Environment and Tourism minister Priscah Mupfumira arrested on abuse of office charges related to $95 million allegedly siphoned from the National Social Security Authority.
- United States President Donald Trump signed into law the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act (zidera). The Bill was passed by the United States Congress in July and sets tough conditions for Zimbabwe to re-engage with the United States of America
- On August 1, finance minister Mthuli Ncube said the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) won’t publish the year- to-year inflation figures until February 2020.
- President Emmerson Mnangagwa fires arrested Minister Prisca Mupfumira.
- The High Court dismiss an urgent chamber application by MDC seeking nullification of a prohibition of the party’s planned demonstration. The judgment by Justice Joseph Musakwa meant that the demonstration remained prohibited.
- The Zimbabwean Independent reported that President Mnangagwa’s “flying adventures had taken him to 40 destinations aboard the regal plane which costs US$30 000 to hire for an hour. Mnangagwa’s unbridled spending on lavish travel has seen government spend ZW$195 448 930 million (US$12,2 million at Interbank rate) on local and foreign trips in the first eight months of the year.”
- On 6 September former president, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, died at age 95 in Singapore. Main opposition leader Advocate Nelson Chamisa attended the memorial service at the National Sports Stadium but did not speak. Major-General Trust Mugoba also dies on the same day.
- On 28 September former Leader Mugabe Buried at His Rural Home.
- It was on 25 September that High Court Judge President Justice (Major-General-rtd) George Chiweshe’s gave police an hour to allow Dr. Peter Magombeyi to seek medical treatment in South Africa. The decision come after police had argued that the head of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, Dr. Peter Magombeyi, was “unfit to travel.”
- RBZ temporarily shut down Ecocash to pressure the company to effectively deal with agents charging premiums on cash out facility.
- MDC legislators who walked out of Parliament during President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address will have their allowances docked the Speaker of the National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda announced.
- United States President Donald Trump on 25 October added Mnangagwa’s close ally, State Security minister Owen Ncube, to the sanctions list.
- President Mnangagwa signs Maintanance of Order and Peace Act (MOPA) into law. The act repealed the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).
- Former Transport Minister Joram Gumbo has been arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) for criminal abuse of office and later released without charge.
- On 14 November finance and economic development minister Professor Mthuli Ncube presented the 2020 national budget.
- It was on 23 November that Vice-President General Constantino Chiwenga return home from medical attention in China.
- Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa through Higher Life Foundation unveils a ZWL100 million facility for striking doctors to entice them to return to work.
- MDC leader Advocate Nelson Chamisa is reportedly to have escaped death by a wisker after police are said to have fired live ammunition at a tree planting event in Marondera, Mashonaland East.
- The ruling ZANU-PF holds its annual National People’s Conference in Goromonzi, Mashonaland East. President Mnangagwa attends.
- Vice-President Costantino Chiwenga’s wife Marry is arrested by zacc on several charges.
- President Mnangagwa signs Consumer Protection bill into law.
- On 14 December medical doctors strike reached 100 days.
- Former South African president Thabo Mbeki arrives in the country. He held meetings with Mnangagwa and opposition leader Advocate Nelson Chamisa.
- CABINET, in its last meeting of the year before it breaks for the festive holidays, approved the Constitutional Amendment Bill of 2019 which will allow the President-elect to appoint two Vice Presidents, while repealing the provision of running mates that was set to come into effect at 2023 presidential election. The 2013 Constitution, through Section 92, has a 10-year transitional clause that provides for the joint election of the President and two running mates selected by the Presidential candidate.