Editorial: Emmerson Mnangagwa’s big challenge

Monday was supposed to mark a new dawn for our neighbour up north. For the first time since independence Zimbabwe was to go into elections without Robert Mugabe, the man who had ruled the country for nearly four decades. Mugabe was removed from power in November last year and the elections were widely expected to be free and fair.

On the day itself there were no major issues raised with the elections. But just days after Zimbabweans cast their votes the streets of Harare were burning and soldiers were deployed into the area. The result? Six people confirmed dead, many more injured and others arrested.

The scene in Harare has dampened the hope that the world had placed on the emergence of a freer and democratic Zimbabwe, where elections can be declared free and fair, and the rule of law reigns supreme. The world’s positive outlook for Zimbabwe was welcome prior to the elections as it was a sign that confidence was being restored; it was expected to make Zimbabwe attractive to investors.

President elect Emmerson Mnangagwa must ensure that the momentum of the ugly scenes on Harare’s streets – provoked by MDC presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa’s foolish behaviour and Mnangagwa’s own decision to bring in the army – do not derail Zimbabwe’s new dawn.

Mnangagwa must extend a hand to the losers and develop a respectable and cooperative relationship with Chamisa. He must encourage expatriates to return to rebuild the country and ensure an all-inclusive country works for all Zimbabweans. Mnangagwa also needs to embrace all potential international partners, including those that his predecessor despised and alienated.

The new president must not see his victory as just a triumph for him and his party, but as a challenge and opportunity to repair the damaged country and restore hope for the people.