2015: Crazy Year When Mugabe Fell And Everything Else Followed Suit


By Luke Tamborinyoka

But above all, it has been the year of the fall; from President Robert Mugabe publicly falling at Harare International Airport in February to the Zanu PF conference in December held at the aptly named Victoria Falls at a time the party is raven with divisions and its fortunes plummeting down in sync with the gushing, plunging waters at Mosi oa Tunya.

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe, 91, tripped as he came down some podium stairs at the airport
SYMBOLIC: Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe, 91, tripped as he came down some podium stairs at the airport early this year

Indeed, the factionalism and divisions in the party have become the new “smoke that thunders!”

In between the President’s fall in February that grabbed international headlines and the plummeting fortunes and divisions that reached fever pitch at the annual conference, many others things have buckled and fallen in sync with the floundering economic fortunes of the country.

It is not only Mugabe who literally fell at the airport as old age and the associated infirmity refused to be glossed over; his first Vice President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa has also fallen down the pecking order both in the party and government despite officially touted as the number two.

The Croc may be one of the Vice Presidents and second secretaries of Zanu PF, but First Lady Grace Mugabe has made it clear that both Vice Presidents are junior to her.

It must be a first in the world of politics that a First Lady claims to be senior to the Vice Presidents of the country only by virtue of the ordinary attribute of sharing a bedroom with the President!

Yet it remains fact that both Vice Presidents have fallen from the pecking order.

It may also be argued that even the President himself is struggling to be the number one citizen; with his wife stealing the show at many a public function, including at the Victoria Falls annual conference early this month.

It could all be because the new slogan, munhu wese kuna amai (everyone to the First Lady), means just that — everyone, including the President!

Indeed, the First Lady’s whirlwind tours across the country that began last year have become death knells to the political careers of many a Vice President!

Whenever she hits the road, someone is bound to fall.

In 2014, it was former Vice President Joice Mujuru who was the target and she eventually fell by the wayside.

This time, it is clear one more vice President is about to have his career prospects and chances of upward mobility dimmed.

There were bound to be casualties. After all, her maiden name is Marufu (deaths). Given such a name which means deaths in the plural sense, it is only prudent that many a Vice President had to fall to her sword!

The year 2015 saw the economy making its own huge plunge, with all economic indicators heading southwards.

This week, a research carried out by ZimStat, the World Bank and the United Nations Children’s Fund revealed that our villagers in throughout the country are wallowing in unprecedented poverty, with 96 percent of families across the provinces surviving on less than $1a day.

As if we have not fallen far down enough and probably for the first time since immemorial, civil servants, particularly teachers, will be lining up for their December paycheck after Christmas — on the 28th of December to be precise.


I am familiar with the sad story of teachers because over 50 percent of my immediate members, including my uncles, aunts, brothers and sisters, are teachers and they have never faced a bleak Christmas like this one, not to mention the promised bonus whose prospects of becoming a reality are getting dimmer every day.

Since independence when we were growing up, we knew that teachers were paid mid-month.

But consistent with the national theme of falling in 2015, even their pay day has now fallen way down to the 28th of the month!

This is a new experience, especially for teachers, but it points to how far down we have fallen from the lofty standards we set for ourselves after independence when we were the jewel of Africa and still an attractive destination for international capital; indeed when were famous for our unstinting commitment to frugality and certainty of government policies and services.

But government pay day is no longer certain as officials struggle to raise revenue at a time when over 90 percent is now dedicated to salaries alone, leaving nothing for other pressing government commitments.

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) is struggling to raise revenue and — consistent with the national theme of  “falling”— the revenue chief is one Gershem Pasi.

Pasi is the Shona word for “ground” and the name of the revenue chief is the apt summation of how far down our national fall has taken us!

Not to be outdone in the national stampede for the diving board, the national power supply has drastically fallen in the last few months.

Energy Minister Samuel Undenge has publicly warned the nation of the pending danger.

He told the nation that in August, the now almost dry Kariba dam was supplying 750 megawatts, which fell to 475 MW in October, plunging to 280 MW this December and expected to hit new lows by January 2016.

That is why it was defitting that the Zanu PF conference be held at the Victoria Falls — one of the Seven Wonders of the World where the favourite pastime for tourists is bungee jumping.

Everything in the country is bungee-jumping to new lows.

The significance of the venue chosen by the party in government for their annual jamboree speaks to the depth we have plunged, indeed the lofty heights from which we have fallen in harmony with the plunging waters.

When our 91-year-old President publicly fell at the airport in February, his spin doctors resorted to political banter and propaganda, steering away from issues of senility and the President’s age as the reason for that globally famous fall. The President had not fallen, so we were told, he had merely tripped on a folded carpet on the airport tarmac!

And we continue to plunge collectively as a nation in this crazy year of falling! But maybe, in the words of the government spokespersons, we have not fallen — we have merely tripped on the folded carpet of sanctions and sabotage from our international detractors who are mounting a sustained assault on our sovereignty due to the fact that we gave our land to our people.

How far down do we have to fall and still maintain our silence as a nation, even amid these shrill but laughable denials of our sad national predicament?

In the wake of the poverty and despondency around us, one can only appeal for nostalgic comfort to the fond memories of the inclusive government; that era of abundance with the competent Morgan Tsvangirai on the wheel of government!

Well, tinosvika chete senyika (we will get there as a people). In the words of Morgan Tsvangirai, when we eventually get there — as we shall in the very near future — we shall all cry the tears of joy!

Happy Christmas, Zimbabwe!

*Tamborinyoka doubles as Morgan Tsvangirai’s spokesperson as well as the MDC-T’s Director of Communications. He writes here in his personal capacity

(This article first appeared on Nehanda Radio)

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