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‘The Crocodile’ must not disappoint’

Publishing Date : 28 November, 2017

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Zimbabwe's new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa has hailed a "new and unfolding democracy" after returning from exile to replace Robert Mugabe who resigned from the office following military and public pressure.

Botswana as a neighbor has faced the negative consequences of the harsh economic conditions in Zimbabwe. The celebrations that followed Mugabe’s resignation are justified here because of the experiences of the past decade or so when the Zimbabwe economy plummeted.

We appreciate that Mnangagwa has also vowed to create jobs in a country where some estimates say 90% of people are unemployed. In his words he said: "We want to grow our economy, we want peace, we want jobs, jobs, jobs," he told a cheering crowd in Harare. Amid euphoric celebrations over longtime president Robert Mugabe's resignation on Tuesday, many are questioning whether the strongman's successor — a longtime Mugabe ally — will actually bring about much-needed change. Our view is that he should be given a chance to guide Zimbabwe out of the mess it is in. There is always a starting point.

We still hold him accountable by his words: "Never should the nation be held at ransom by one person ever again, whose desire is to die in office whatever the cost of the nation," Mnangagwa had said in a statement on Tuesday, hours before Mugabe's resignation announcement. We want to believe that Mnangagwa will give Zimbabweans the democracy they have been yearning for. We hope that he will not emulate Mugabe and surround himself with men and women who will influence a stronghold to the presidency.  Zimbabwe needs democratic reforms fast so as to kic start the much needed economic reforms.

Mnangagwa's swearing-in was the first time the nation of 16 million saw a new president since its independence from British rule in 1980, when Mugabe took office. It is evident that some are skeptical as to whether the coup will bring about a new democratic era. There are significant uncertainties over, for instance, a transitional government and a timeframe for elections. |They caution that before talk of IMF funding and a resumption of ties with Western donors can even begin, the victors of this coup will need to restore the constitutional order.

On top of this, they face a divided party, an economic crisis, and a political context which has stifled, rather than encouraged, democracy. But this are notes for the new leader, Mnangagwa, this is where he must demonstrate his leadership credentials and get everyone to rally behind him to rediscover Zimbabwe.  Analysts have suggested major economic growth potential for the southern African nation following years of damaging economic mismanagement and international sanctions.

Zimbabwe is one of the world's top producers of platinum and lithium, among other highly valued extractives. Currently, poverty exceeds 70 percent and Zimbabwe ranked 154 out of 176 nations in Transparency International's 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index. Optimists point out that Mnangagwa's apparent support for pro-business reforms are cause for cautious optimism after decades of mismanagement under Mugabe.

One thing is certain, the people of Zimbabwe are hopeful and the new leader should not disappoint them. Much of the resentment of Mugabe is because of the economic difficulties that have been left to fester. Many have welcomed President’s Mugabe decision to resign after 37 years in office. The hope is that this decision will allow for a smooth and peaceful transition of power, and that all Zimbabweans will get their chance of an authentic, fair and legitimate election process.  We believe that Mugabe’s departure now gives the people of Zimbabwe the chance to determine their futures. It is vital that a proper, fair and transparent process is in place for the next election.

After more than three decades of violent repression, the way forward for the country is for the new leaders to renounce the abuses of the past and transition into a new era where the rule of law is respected and those who are responsible for injustices are held to account.
The people of Zimbabwe deserve better. The next generation of leaders must commit itself to upholding the constitution, living up to Zimbabwe’s international human rights obligations and treating its people with dignity and justice.



Do you think the courts will help put the UDC, BMD impasse within reasonable time ahead of the 2019 General Election?