When Zimbabwe started the just-ended decade, the Government of National Unity (GNU) between the ruling Zanu PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change was less than a year old.
Thus the past decade started buoyantly and gave the nation hope for a brighter and better future — with unity and peace being central to nation-building. As the democratic spaces were opening up, so too the opportunities.
However, anything — the good and the bad — can happen in a decade, providing lessons for the future.
New things are born, while others die, which is natural in evolution.
For example, Cyclone Idai which struck Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi last year was an indicator of challenges we have to look out for in the 2020-2030 decade, and beyond.
On the economic front, the just-ended decade saw Zimbabwe adopting a basket of multi-currencies, with the United States dollar being dominant. Since attempts have been made to revert to the local currency, what lessons have been learnt?
Had we sold our sovereignty and nationhood on the altar of expediency, considering that the ghosts from this policy continue to haunt the economy?
While the end of the past decade saw the start of the Second Republic, it will also be remembered as the decade when Zimbabwe lost a number of its gallant sons and daughters that fought for the country’s Independence, and served the nation in various capacities, while at the same time they protected the founding principles outlined in the Constitution.
Those that departed are too many to mention, but some of the notable figures include the founding President Robert Mugabe, Vice President John Landa Nkomo, General Solomon Mujuru and Dr Dumiso Dabengwa — the intelligence supremo in the Zipra guerrilla wing of ZAPU.
While efforts to ensure that key pillars for economic recovery and development — agriculture, mining and human resources — maintained an upward trajectory, the results from the past decade are not at all what everyone had hoped for.
Now, we have not only started a new year, but a hyped decade.
What does 2020-2030 hold for Zimbabwe?
When we analyse results on the ground, vis-à-vis assurances that President Mnangagwa and his lieutenants give about Zimbabwe attaining a middle-income status by 2030, do we think that it’s achievable?
Harare, the capital city’s vision is to “achieve a world class city status by 2025.” Is this also realistic?
Zimbabwe is also not an island.
It starts the new decade on the same pedestal as other world nations.
The United Nations (UN) has declared 2020-2030 as the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration and the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
Ghana also launched a “birthright campaign” under the theme: “2020-2030: A decade of African Restoration”; while the World Health Organisation says it is a “Decade of Healthy Aging”, which addresses Sustainable Development Goal No. 3 on Health and Well-being.
According to Chile’s Health Minister, “Population aging is an unprecedented phenomenon that forces all of our countries to unite . . . The Decade of Healthy Aging 2020-2030 will be a global effort that can make a difference in people’s lives and their environments.”
For some, “2020 to 2030 will be the “Decade of agri-tech”, maintaining, that agriculture, “the mainstay of Africa’s informal economies, needs a facelift, and some new faces to talk tech to power. Agri-tech is the buzzword.”
Meanwhile, some religious establishments have declared it a “Decade of Dominion” or “The new decade of divine establishment”.
According to one website: “2020 is such a huge and important year. In fact, this is a ‘pivotal’ year, which means that the prosperity and well-being of the years to come are directly hinged to the advancement and establishment of this year.”
Against this backdrop, what will be the biggest stories, hopes, challenges and personalities for this decade, not just for Zimbabwe?
When United States President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, in a region ravaged by war, how will the decade end?
The decade will also see an upsurge in information, communication and technological connectivity, as the Fourth Industrial Revolution takes effect.
Parag Khanna’s 2016 publication, “Connectography: Mapping the future of global civilisation”, gives a broad overview of what the decade will be like in that area.
Other issues that will make it an interesting decade include climate change, water crisis, food security, terrorism, unemployment, rise of white nationalism, cyberspace operations — all of which pose major national and international security risks.
How will they be resolved?
Pope Francis’ sentiments in his New Year message portray the positive and negative aspirations for 2020 and ensuing decade: “Our human family is scarred and wounded by a succession of increasingly destructive wars that especially affect the poor and those most vulnerable.”
“Sadly, the New Year does not seem to be marked by encouraging signs, as much as by heightened tensions and acts of violence,” he said.
Notwithstanding, time will tell.