Five Zimbabweans who made the news in 2016

2016-12-14 20:32
Pastor Evan Mawarire. (File: AFP)

Pastor Evan Mawarire. (File: AFP)

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Harare - Anointed cucumbers and Zim Bond: 2016 in Zimbabwe hasn't just been about #ThisFlag.

This has been a game-changing year in the cash-strapped southern African country - and there are new names among those making the news this year.

Here are five Zimbabweans who got people talking in the last turbulent 12 months.

Please note: there are no opposition politicians here.

John Mangudya

Oh yes, Zimbabwe's "bond" man. The central bank chief who announced the coming of the bond note back in May and has been desperately peddling this paper money as the answer to Zimbabwe's cash crisis. He took over from Gideon Gono (the man who introduced Zimbabwe's ill-fated bearer cheque) in 2014. From what looked like mellow beginnings, Mangudya has shown himself to be increasingly Big Brother-ish, ordering the sacking of bank workers who leaked photographs of bond notes in bank vaults last month. How will he react if businesses start rejecting bond notes or - heaven forbid - card payments?

Evan Mawarire

Remember "10 Things Every Husband Desperately Wants His Wife to Know"? Actually, probably you don't. But before 2016, that was what Harare protest pastor Evan Mawarire was best known for: a slim book of candid advice for married couples. The founder of the #ThisFlag online protest movement against longtime president Robert Mugabe, Mawarire is now well-known outside the country. It's hard however to mention his name inside Zimbabwe without feeling that mixture of admiration and bitter disappointment that his hasty flight into exile caused in July. Would things have been different if he'd stayed? That's a question Mawarire must ask himself every day. 

Grace Mugabe

Not a new name in Zimbabwean politics. The president's wife became a grandmother this year when daughter Bona gave birth to a son. She might not have made it to the newsmakers' list if it hadn't been for THAT diamond ring she bought for a mere $1.4m in May, sending the money happily out of Zimbabwe when business owners trying to legally buy stock in SA were accused of "externalising" hard cash. 

Prophet Walter Magaya

"Prophet journalism" sells newspapers in Zimbabwe and anything about 33-year-old Prophet Magaya of Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries pulls more readers than ever. Magaya has had a somewhat chequered year, at one point being accused of rape (the complainant has since withdrawn the charges). Most recently, Magaya is reported to have "healed" a local dancehall artist who was confined to a wheelchair. He's also come under fire for allegedly distributing anointed cucumbers from his farm at a church service. Apparently they were very popular.

Patson Dzamara

Was already protesting the Mugabe government when Mawarire started making his videos in April. Patson is the brother of Itai Dzamara, the journalist-turned-activist who was abducted from a barber's shop in Harare in March 2015 and has not been seen since. Dzamara held up a placard outside the VIP tent (where Mugabe was sitting) during independence day celebrations asking where Itai was. Patson Dzamara has been abducted and beaten in the last few months. More recently, his social media posts have betrayed some frustration at the pace of non-change in Zimbabwe. Just been named as a candidate for the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship Programme. 

Read more on:    john mangudya  |  grace mugabe  |  evan mawarire  |  patson dzamara  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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