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Characters in Zimbabwe’s next chapter
With a new leader and high-stake elections planned for the middle of the year, here is a look at some of the faces likely to make an impact in the year ahead
Jah Prayzah – Military rhythms
Born Mukudzeyi Mukombe, the musician serendipitously released an album titled Kutonga Kwaro a few weeks before the mid-November coup that ended Mugabe’s rule. The album, whose title song is now President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s campaign song, is rich with political lyrics that dramatise the events leading to Mugabe’s resignation. Jah Prayzah, whose band performs in full military regalia, has become a favourite amongst the ruling elite and collaborated with superstar US artist Jason Derulo.
Beatrice Mtetwa – Dogged defender
Mtetwa, who was born in Swaziland, was a prosecutor until 1989, when she went into private practice specialising in human rights law. Since then, the fearless lawyer has been involved with several high-profile cases. She has won local and international awards for defending journalists and activists, despite being targeted by the authorities. Businessman Strive Masiyiwa revealed in April that he had turned to Mtetwa for help when the Mugabe regime sought to put pressure on him and his companies.
Lance Mambondiani – Blossoming banker
The 44-year-old lawyer became the acting chief executive officer of Econet Wireless-owned Steward Bank after the financial institution parted ways with former CEO Kwanele Ngwenya. Mambondiani is not new in the financial services sector, having worked for various financial institutions both locally and internationally. Locally, he directed TN Asset Management and Kingdom Private Bank. Internationally, Mambondiani had stints with Barclays in the UK, UBS in Switzerland, Ulster Bank in Ireland and Investec in South Africa. Mambondiani has been critical of Zimbabwe’s indigenisation laws, which have been reviewed by the new administration. Steward is growing and made $8.5m in profit last year before rolling out new point-of-sale devices for small businesses this year.
Vimbai Musvaburi – Rally of the returnee
Touched by the plight of fellow citizens back home, Vimbai Musvaburi resigned from her nursing job in neighbouring South Africa to pursue a career in politics in Zimbabwe. When former President Mugabe was toppled by the military in the bloodless coup of November 2017, Musvaburi became famous for pulling down Mugabe’s portrait at one of the country’s top hotels a few hours before he tendered his resignation. Now, Vimbai has set her eyes on the Bulawayo South constituency, where she has put her name forward to contest the parliamentary seat in elections due in a few months’ time.
Evan Mawarire – Powerful pastor
Pastor Evan Mawarire shot to fame after he used social media to call for popular protests that resulted in Zimbabweans going on strike for two consecutive days in what came to be known as the ‘Zimbabwe national shutdown’. Brandishing the Zimbabwe flag round his neck and carrying a bible, Mawarire took his campaign to the United Nations General Assembly, where he led protests against former president Robert Mugabe. Mawarire was later charged with “attempting to subvert a constitutionally elected government” following a series of protests and social media outbursts but the charges were dropped on technical grounds. Mawarire is running to be a municipal councillor in Harare as an independent candidate.