COMMENT: Dawn of a new era

Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa

Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa

Last night was a new beginning for Zimbabwe.
The mistakes of the past, especially the last few years, were being washed away in an incredible party, an exceptionally good-natured celebration, and Zimbabwe was once again a far more united country and a society with exceptionally high morale. Incoming President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who once the paperwork is done, is likely to be sworn-in today or at the latest tomorrow as the second Executive President of Zimbabwe, faces high expectations but will have a short honeymoon while he starts the process of moving Zimbabwe forward. He, a victim of some of the mistakes, needs to build on the national spirit that has been exhibited in the last week.

For some things have now changed, forever. The overwhelming majority of the marchers on Saturday and those in the impromptu celebrations last night were the younger generations, young men and women in their twenties and thirties who had been born and had grown up in a free Zimbabwe. They will never again go back into a box of silence and all future Zimbabwean leaders are going to have to be accustomed to plain speaking, to listening and then explaining what they are doing and why.

And they need to recognise another huge sea-change. The symbols in the marches, the rallies and the street parties were not names of people or pictures on walls. There was just one symbol – the flag. And those marching and partying did not care what language or dialect the person next to them spoke; they did not care what district or province they came from; they did not care how they worshipped God or even if they did not worship any God; they did not care how their neighbour voted in the last election or how they might vote next year; they did not care about race or class. They were just happy to be together as Zimbabweans. And that is perhaps the greatest triumph of the past 37 years.

The second great change must be recognition of the danger of living in a fairy-tale land, in a hall of mirrors surrounded by sycophants, of a refusal to find out what people are really thinking and saying. It is difficult for any president in any country in this modern world of tight security to find out exactly what is going on, but not impossible. Rallies are no substitute for meeting real people with real concerns and real ideas.

The other problem, of no change at the top, has been ended by our new Constitution with its maximum two-term limit. The next 37 years will see a minimum of four Presidents, and that assumes that everyone will win two terms and want to serve both of them. There are likely to be more and Zimbabwe, too, will start accumulating former Presidents drawing reasonable pensions and turning up at national events. The next generation of Zimbabweans will become very used to regular changes of guard at State House.

The incoming President has three main jobs. As Head of State he will represent Zimbabwe, but with the whole perception change we have seen in a week, no longer personify Zimbabwe. As leader of the Government with a parliamentary majority he will have to work with others to select the best options and policies, sell these to the nation and then make them work, a very tough job. Among other things in these two roles he will need to at least be on speaking terms with opposition leaders. Disagreement is inbuilt in a democracy, and probably needed in a democracy. But it can be disagreement and a choice of policies, not “us” versus the “enemy”.

Finally, he is already head of the largest political party, one which has become seriously aware of its own mistakes. The Central Committee has seized back control; it wants to abolish the idea of one centre of authority and power; it wants to go back to being a big tent party accommodating a wide variety of views and open debate.

Cde Mnangagwa needs to encourage this if he wants his party to become relevant again. But this might be his easiest task; the spur of a forthcoming election encourages politicians to think how they can present their party as an organisation capable of selecting the first class to present to the electorate, rather than a small cabal fronted by someone largely despised by members and supporters.

We hope Cde Mnangagwa does well in his new job. And we hope that when he finishes his stint in State House the cheers will be for a job well done and commentators will all be hoping that his successor will be “just as good”. He has the best wishes of most Zimbabweans, at least today.

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  • Takunda

    So many mass demonstrations and joyous celebrations without violence and without the unnecessary presence of police security forces or their riot squads. It doesn’t need rocket science to add 2 and 2 together, and deduce all past violence attributed to initially peaceful demonstrations and protest marches were instigated by police forces deliberately at the behest of their corrupt masters?
    President Mnangagwa’s new government can now begin his difficult task of rationalising civil service effectives and cutting Government’s unsustainable wage bill draining the fiscus, by targeting low hanging fruit and obvious economies. Having seen how Zimbabwe’s peaceful people have no need for such a massive police presence, he can start by cutting police force employees by at least half to boost the nation’s Treasury available for more worthwhile causes.

  • Tinovaziva

    It will not be new era as long as the arrogance and dictatorial attitudes displayed by Zanu PF remain in place. The fact that some of these goons who were cheering Amai feel this is an internal Zanu PF matter betrays their delusion. Either you will stop being in election mode and work together with various parties to restore our economy or we will swiftly make our displeasure known next election. If it is free and fair you can expect a thorough thrashing unless you put your house in order by fixing the economy that you, Zanu PF, have flushed in the toilet with you ill-thought policies. You own this.

    • JongweRachembera

      Remember the military are the unofficial arbitrators of who gets to rule or misrule the country. Free and fair elections are a pipe dream. Elections are a façade to the world to give a continued military dictatorship legitimacy and an illusion of “democracy”. We only hope the new president brings the minimum of economic growth and some law and order, especially the rampant corruption. It would also be good if we either adopted the Rand as official currency or bring the Zim dollar back in a measured and well implemented manner. Mnangagwa has some economic expertise so one hopes he uses it to Zimbabwe’s advantage and not to the advantage of the ruling elite.

  • Mabasashe

    Never mind about one night, Zimbabwe has frequently experienced long periods cumulatively the equivalent of years without the physical and mental presence of an effective President who cares about the people and the nation. Any change of President can only be for the better, and we hope Mr Mugabe will enjoy his few remaining days of forced retirement in the company of other forgotten dictators and despots dumped in the dustbins and oubliettes of history.

    • Madara

      soon he will die. then we need to get our billions back

  • muchenjeri

    And this is in the Herald? I guess change really happens. Well done editor.

    • TJ Tapela

      well done indeed. A refreshing change

  • Tsotso

    First, he must dismantle those stupid repressive laws he crafted when he was minister of justice. We want free and fair elections. I am sure that will see him and his part only in the history books of Zimbabwe. They have done enough damage to an entire generation so please Mr. Editor stop getting back into your old shoes of siding with the govt of the day. These ones spoiled and they don’t deserve a tenth chance, NO!

  • Dziva

    In the last 37 years , zanu pf forgot its mandate to the people. New era needs to build relationships across the globe and hoping crocodile’s first foreign trip as head of unified Zimbabwe will be UK.

  • Goto

    I wish the Cde Mugabe good rest and stress free retirement. I also wish Cde Munangagwa a successfull presidential term. However, while everyone was busy celebrating, I am disturbed by how our enemies celebrated. Britain decides to call us ‘our oldest friend’, some racist whites like Froth expect a reversal of the land reform etc and some countries are calling for internationally supervised elections. These are some of the challenges that the new president will face on the international scene. The jackals are waiting. Let’s remain resolute and focused.

  • musayigwa

    The real question is are we jumping from pan to fire or from fire to pan?

    Either way it will be hot. Lets wait and see.

    • Kuta Kinte

      From hot to warmth.

  • Zatta Zvayi

    That’s an excellent piece Mr Editor…Expectations are high.A Zim President is for everyone not Zanoids only.
    We would like to see real change based on tolerance and hunhu.We would like to see accountability,checks and balances…Merit and not party allegiance should be used to identify and appoint leaders.
    The diaspora has to be recognised a d given a dedicated portfolio in the nrw government.
    Elections have to be held soon since the nation is already in election mode…
    The custodians of our independence is not the security forces,war vets or Zanoids alone, but the people of Zimbabwe wherever they maybe,whatever colour,race ,religion or creed.
    We do not want to be led by threats or intimidation…hatichatya.
    BETTER MUST COME!!!

  • thevinin

    For the first time herald, you are sounding so inclusive so nationalistic, almost shed a tear reading this, never again should we subject our peoples to the toxic politics of the past!

    • musayigwa

      Mmmm I would keep my tears tucked in my eye lids if i were you my friend.

      Herald was push pro Ngwena rhetoric more enthusiastically than Bob. Only switched when warning shots were fired by the former first lady.

      But I will reserve a small hope of change if they so much as publish this comment.

  • Trex1

    Ko Sanctions???

  • Kuta Kinte

    Change also includes changing the mentality for regime change just for the sake of it. Why don’t you give ED a chance and see rather than just being configured to the mantra of regime change.

    • mandevu

      my comments are not from the mantra of change. they are from the bitter experience of living under the despotic rule of Zanu PF. Have a look at Goto’s comments above and you will understand why I said what I did. Does a leopard change its spots? Maybe

  • Freedom!

    Fantastic! Only a few days ago Herald moderators would have been shot for allowing this to pass!

    • theheraldonline

      Lol…how are you Freedom?

      • Freedom!

        Waking up! Hope my celebration hangover isn’t as bad as yours?

        • theheraldonline

          Lol . . . We had to facilitate the celebrations – media wise. We were the first to break on twitter President Mugabe’s resignation, after a historical 37 years of the revolutionary leader in power.

  • sylvia101

    …and hopefully there will also be a new editor at this fawning, non-newspaper.

  • Goto

    The former president was removed strictly according to the constitution of our country. This costitutional removal of Mugabe was initiated by Zanu Pf. The mass demonstrations were not spontaneous but were initiated by war veterans who stressed that Zanu Pf is their party which they wanted to recover from the G40 cabal. The new president who was installed by Zanu Pf is the leader of Zanu Pf. But he is primarily the leader of every Zimbabwean and works for the people of Zimbabwe. Most Zimbweans support the change of leadership in Zanu Pf. Furthermore, outside of Government the President’s slogan is Pamperi ne Zanu Pf.

    We now await the removal of Tsvangiral ‘constitutionally’ as the leader of the MDC. He has been at the helm of this party since 1999? And what does the MDC constitution say about the term of party president?

  • mandevu

    same zanu PF, but hope for a new approach?