This is a time for cool heads

HARARE - For those with eyes and ears, the writing had been on the wall for a very long time.

Things have not been well at all in Zimbabwe for the past two decades and it really did not require rocket science to see that sooner, rather than later something would have to give.

President Robert Mugabe and his government inherited a buoyant economy from the colonial regime in 1980, which they have totally mismanaged.

What was once the breadbasket for the sub-region and Africa as a whole is now considered a basket-case and a black sheep among the community of nations.

In fact, so bad has the situation become that worried senior officials within the warring governing party had repeatedly told the Daily News over the past five years that it was a matter of time before the former liberation movement imploded all together.

“This current crisis (the infighting in the ruling party) is very different from anything that Zanu PF has had to deal with since Herbert Chitepo was murdered in Zambia and Ndabaningi Sithole was kicked out of the party in the 1970s.

“In fact, many people fear that Gushungo (Mugabe) now faces more or less the same challenge that Ndabaningi faced in the 1970s. This is why some comrades believe it could be ‘mene, mene, tekel, parsin’,” a politburo member told this newspaper last year.

The biblical quote “mene, mene, tekel, parsin” is found in the Old Testament, where words appeared on the wall during Belshazzar’s Feast (Daniel 5:25), and which were interpreted by the prophet Daniel to mean that God had doomed the kingdom of Belshazzar.

And so it is that today Zimbabwe finds itself in the discomforting position where the military is intervening in the governance of the country amid a worsening economic environment, marked by severe cash and foreign currency shortages, as well as spiralling prices of basic goods.

To the utter discredit of our leaders, the average black Zimbabwean is today infinitely worse off, economically, than they were before the country attained independence from Britain in 1980.

A confirmation of this embarrassing reality is the fact that Zimbabwe was recently ranked the second poorest country in the world notwithstanding its vast mineral wealth that deserves it a place among the world’s wealthiest nations.

It really is all very depressing. Zanu PF officials are squarely and solely to blame for this, and all our seemingly unending crises.

Our call to all Zimbabweans at this challenging time is for everyone — particularly excitable Zanu PF apparatchiks — to remain calm, and not to get carried away by the fever and emotion of unfolding developments.

We also urge the military to exercise maximum restraint, and to move with speed to work with all key stakeholders across political and social divides — to help stabilise the country and to provide much-needed inclusive leadership that can take our long-suffering nation out of the current quagmire.

If all Zimbabweans — including those in senior positions in Zanu PF and the military — heed this advice, we have no doubt whatsoever that this will help pull the country back from the brink, and with time, propel it to the great heights that our political independence portended in April 1980.

The hope of millions of right-thinking and peace-loving Zimbabweans is that out of the current difficulties will emerge a stronger, prosperous and more democratic country — and that a watchful and supportive regional and international community will come onboard to help us reach our full potential.

After all, Zimbabwe is a rich country full of well-educated people. We really shouldn’t be in this mess. Zimbabwe and its beleaguered citizens need and deserve nothing less.

Meanwhile, the Daily News will continue to tell the Zimbabwean story like it is, without fear or favour — more so now because the key role of the media in our fledgling democracy has never been more critical.

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