New era for free Zim­babwe

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OPINION -

WHEN the in­cred­i­ble hap­pened in Zim­babwe eight months ago, the mil­i­tary played a huge and not-so-palat­able role in the events that put an end to the 37-year reign of Robert Mu­gabe.

The “soft coup” that top­pled the never-say-die nona­ge­nar­ian was tol­er­ated as a tool used in ab­nor­mal cir­cum­stances.

Some­thing had to be done to stop the former strong­man’s am­bi­tious and po­lit­i­cally ma­lig­nant wife, Grace Mu­gabe, from usurp­ing the pres­i­dency from his cruel and crazed clutches for her nar­row and my­opic ends.

Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa stepped up.

He promised to lead the coun­try to a true democ­racy and pros­per­ity. And a lot has been achieved since that event­ful Novem­ber.

But whether the man nick­named Croc­o­dile has done or changed enough and whether the cit­i­zens ap­prove of his lead­er­ship should be clear soon as Zim­bab­weans go to the polls to­mor­row.

Another per­ti­nent ques­tion is: have the gen­er­als been de­politi­cised enough to be ready to salute who­ever will emerge as the new pres­i­dent?

Zim­babwe is poised to break from a painful past char­ac­terised by Mu­gabe’s litany of lead­er­ship fail­ures, which saw him turn from lib­er­a­tion hero to de­ranged despot.

The stakes are high and the con­di­tions un­prece­dented. For the first time in four decades, Mu­gabe’s name is con­spic­u­ous by its ab­sence on the bal­lot pa­per.

His archri­val, Mor­gan Ts­van­gi­rai, died early this year and was re­placed by the promis­ing young Nel­son Chamisa, who is threat­en­ing to turn the tables on the lib­er­a­tion party that has ruled the min­eral-rich coun­try since 1980.

To­mor­row is an im­por­tant day for Zim­babwe and south­ern Africa. It should be a good day for the re­gion and Africa.

This week South Africa hosted lead­ers of the decade-old Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, China and South Africa strate­gic bloc to ce­ment mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial re­la­tions.

While such pow­er­ful friends are vi­tal, our neigh­bours are also im­por­tant to us.

South Africa should pray for a suc­cess­ful elec­tion in Zim­babwe and stand ready to help, es­pe­cially as the cur­rent leader of the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity.

What­ever the out­come, all that’s re­quired is a free, fair and cred­i­ble elec­tion. No mat­ter who is vic­to­ri­ous, Zim­babwe will win if it’s free and fair.

There’s a new dawn on the hori­zon.

Zim­babwe might be free at last.

Jo­han­nes­burg 29-07.18.The Con­Court rules in favour of the Na­tional Union of Me­tal­work­ers of South Africa (Numsa). Cartoon: Bethuel Man­gena/African

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