Time to bury Mugabe's political ghost

HARARE - The wait is over as Zimbabweans on Monday vote to choose a new leader following the resignation of former president Robert Mugabe who was replaced by his long time aide Emmerson Mnangagwa who was sworn in to finish his term which ends at midnight tomorrow.

That journey which started on November 15, 2017 – when the military stormed the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) in the wee hours of that unforgettable Wednesday morning to put in motion events that would lead to the end of 37 years of Mugabe’s iron-fisted rule, ends on Monday with these highly-anticipated national harmonised elections.

Monday’s elections are landmark and historic.

They will serve to either show the world that as a people Zimbabweans are ready to move forward or that this beautiful country cannot agree to bury the past.

The images of thousands of people –who set aside their political differences and diverse race profiles — to march against Mugabe on November 18 are testament of a nation determined to break with the past and move into a new chapter.

This is why the conclusion of this short journey – from the military intervention of November to the holding of these watershed elections – must be consistent with the unity showed on the streets of Harare on November 18, 2017.

Monday’s elections are not about the popularity or charm of a particular presidential candidate but about someone who assures stability, unity, peace and progress.
Zimbabwe needs progress but which is anchored on peace and stability.

This is why these elections are described as being historic because they represent a chance to break with a past that was tarred by violence against one another, hate speech, racism and deep-seated tribalism which sought to divide people.

As has been witnessed in the run up to the elections, political parties and presidential candidates have exhibited highly commendable behaviours consistent with a new Zimbabwe that we all want.

After Mugabe and Zanu PF’s anger against the whites, which manifested in 2000 when Zimbabwe embarked on bloody and chaotic agrarian reforms – no one in their wildest dreams would have hoped to witness this group being invited to the table by their ‘‘tormentors’’.

But that did happen recently when Mnangagwa held a rally with whites in a gesture which went further than just seeking political capital as the interface served to underline the determination to rebuild Zimbabwe with its entire people involved, in the spirit of “One Zimbabwe, One nation”.

In the run up to these elections, the opposition traversed the length and breadth of the country to engage in peaceful campaigns, something that was taboo during the ill-fated reign of Mugabe.

The fact that opposition political parties largely enjoyed peaceful campaigns speaks to the new culture of tolerance and civility driving the manner in which we agree and disagree.

This has been a seismic development.

In the last seven months, the world has been following us and gauging our commitment as a people to move away from years of conflict against one another.

This explains the thawing of once frosty relations with countries which were once considered aggressive to us during the times of Mugabe.
As a nation we can look to encouraging signs from the United States, Britain, Russia, China and the European Union, who have seen many bright spots in Zimbabwe’s road towards self-correction.

The fact that the US has had dialogue with Zimbabwe and put in motion plans to remove sanctions, on the back of commitment to address historical but critical concerns it had previously raised with Mugabe, show how far we have moved in breaking with the past.

As Zimbabwe decides who to vote for on Monday, it must never escape the majority that Mugabe’s political ghost has been lurking in the shadows.

These elections present an opportunity to bury Mugabe’s political ghost and those who still see value in entertaining his selfish but destructive thoughts of stagnating this country on account of his bitterness towards the events of November 2017.

Monday’s elections present both Zanu PF and the opposition a huge opportunity of charting a new golden path.

God bless Zimbabwe!

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