Is this a second lease of life for Zim?

HARARE – Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans from all walks of life thronged the National Sports Stadium yesterday to witness the swearing-in of the country’s second Executive President, Emmerson Mnangagwa — marking the dawn of a new chapter for the country.

To many gathered in the stadium, yesterday felt like a second Uhuru of sorts, provoking a welter of emotions among the exuberant multi-racial crowd which included several current and former heads of States from the region.

And such was the significance of the occasion that when the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda invited Mnangagwa to the podium to take his oath of office, the man famed for his uncanny ability not to show any emotions, rubbed his eyes as if he was parrying away tears — as he made his way to the waiting chief justice, Luke Malaba.

For those who know him well, it was a sight to behold, as it seemingly dawned on him that his long-held dream of leading Zimbabwe one day had finally arrived.

All the excitement currently engulfing the country aside, it must be said that the Crocodile is taking over at a very difficult time for Zimbabwe, which is desperately in need of some respite all round.

To begin with, there is an urgent need to make Zimbabwe functional again, as almost everything that can go wrong — from politics to economics — has gone horribly wrong under the leadership of former president, Robert Mugabe.

In that light, Mnangagwa needs a capable government made up of deserving and competent ministers from day one if the country’s fortunes are to be turned around.

This necessarily means that his Cabinet and senior government leadership, unlike the team under his predecessor, must be appointed on merit only — and not on political and filial relationships, regionalism and cronyism.

Indeed, there are many capable people inside and outside his close circles who can fit such bills — and he is strongly advised to ditch his predecessor’s misfiring ways if he is not to squander the goodwill that he is currently receiving from many Zimbabweans.

The destructive sense of entitlement by some in the ruling Zanu PF, as well as the mistaken belief that because some of them have been by Mnangagwa’s side through these past turbulent months they thus deserve to be in his Cabinet and to occupy other key government departments, should be discarded with the contempt it deserves.

Make no mistake about it, this is no idle task. But it has to be done for Zimbabwe’s sake, and for his own sake.

Similarly, Mnangagwa must early on in his new tenure get rid of the equally despicable culture of deifying leaders, as all Zimbabweans are sick of it — having watched the system create a self-serving tinpot dictatorship.

It is also the nation’s fervent hope that having been by Mugabe’s side for nearly 54 years, he observed a lot regarding the modus operandi of the former president — the good, the bad and the ugly — life lessons that should serve him well in his new position.

Hopefully, this will also prompt him to cast his net wide as he moves to appoint a competent team that will help him to run the country for the good of all citizens. There is absolutely no reason why he cannot tap for talent from the ranks of the opposition, or from among technocrats to fill important jobs.

It is worth pointing out here that the presence of leading opposition figures such as Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru at yesterday’s inauguration bodes well for the future, as it seemed to suggest that he will be inclusive in the governance system.

Indeed, as he appoints his new team, it will be better for him to disappoint say 20 expectant bigwigs, rather than make 15 million Zimbabweans unhappy.

After all, long-suffering citizens deserve better, as well as tangible Uhuru dividends — which they have been denied for 37 long years.

In addition, Zimbabwe neither belongs to Zanu PF nor is it only for the benefit of a few select people and some regions, and not for the whole country — unfortunately a disconcerting pattern which was the hallmark of Mugabe’s presidency.

Is it too much for us to hope for a completely new beginning?