EDITORIAL: You must give Zimbabweans a better tomorrow

Tuesday November 28 2017

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

New Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa shakes hands with the Chief Justice Luke Malaba when he was officially sworn-in during a ceremony in Harare on November 24, 2017. PHOTO | AFP 

By The EastAfrican
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Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has no doubt assumed big shoes taking over from, in many respects, a larger than life president Robert Mugabe.

The circumstances of his ascendance to power do him no favours. Some have dismissed him as a chip off the old block, but he has a chance to redeem himself by walking away from the dictatorship he helped create and served loyally, and inspiring confidence in a new Zimbabwe.

The euphoria that has greeted his rise to power provides the perfect opportunity for Mr Mnangagwa to press the re-set button and give Zimbabwe a new beginning. The country is desperately in need of a rediscovery and a revival all at once.

It is a blank cheque from the people of Zimbabwe that he should not squander. Many of them, young, are yearning for change and he now stands to offer that or dash their hopes.

Internationally, Mr Mnangagwa’s ascendance has been received with cautious optimism, no doubt owing to his long association with and central position in the administration he has just replaced.

How he handles his citizens and administration, especially in the interim period before elections next year, will determine how long his new-found popularity will last.

His first task is to revive an economy that has collapsed under his watch as a senior player in the Zanu-PF government of predecessor Robert Mugabe.

He must end Zimbabwe’s global isolation and return what was once one of Africa’s most promising economies to the league of progressive countries.

Once touted as a bread basket for sub-Saharan Africa, Zimbabwe has collapsed to a basket case.

His second task is to stem the outward flow of Zimbabwe’s young and talented population, at least a million of whom are believed to live in neighbouring South Africa after fleeing both a tough economy and political harassment.

Mr Mnangagwa will no doubt do himself, Zanu-PF and Zimbabwe a great favour if he starts by inviting all Zimbabweans especially those in the opposition and the multitudes that feel excluded by 37 years of Mugabe to join in an inclusive effort to chart a way forward for all.

Beyond the economy is the desperate need for political breathing space denied to many as Mugabe sank into the depth of autocracy. The multitudes that flooded the streets in celebration were expressing relief that the stranglehold on their necks was finally eased. 

Mr Mnangagwa must avoid the temptation to throttle dissent or exert revenge on those party to his exit from the position of vice president.

He needs to extend a hand of reconciliation to all Zimbabweans regardless of race, tribe or political orientation for while his supporters call him crocodile for his cunning and political ruthlessness those talents must now be deployed to creating a better Zimbabwe and not another chieftaincy that he has wrestled from president Mugabe.

The world’s eyes are on Zimbabwe and will continue to be for a long time, not because of the dashed hopes of yesterday, but the promise of a brighter tomorrow.