New Zimbabwean president must hold elections and rebuild the economy

Now that the dust has settled in Zimbabwe after the ouster of 93-year-old Robert Gabriel Mugabe by the military and with the induction of the former Vice President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa as the nation’s second president since its independence in 1980, all eyes are on the economy and holding open, fair elections.

In an email message to the AmNews, The Elders, a 10-member committee of former leaders, chaired by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, urged all stakeholders in the southern African nation “to implement immediate socio-economic measures to address urgent issues that affect ordinary Zimbabweans’ welfare and provide relief to their pain and suffering.”

Annan added, “The period between now and the 2018 election are critical both for reconciliation and organized transition in Zimbabwe. All stakeholders should come together and engage in serious debate on a future vision and public policy.”

Graça Machel, co-founder of The Elders and a former freedom fighter in Mozambique, said, “The departure of Robert Mugabe offers a huge and rare chance for the people of Zimbabwe to chart a new course toward a peaceful, prosperous and inclusive future. Zimbabwe must look to the future, but also deliver justice to those who have suffered in the past.”

Some observers say that the new government must deal with record-breaking unemployment, closure of once world-renowned companies, hyper-inflation, a cash shortage, unpaid salaries to tens of thousands of workers, retrenchment packages and pensions, schools without books and hospitals without basic medical instruments.

Economic analysts say rebuilding the economy requires injection of liquidity by foreign powers and some real efforts toward honesty and transparency.

“We want to grow the economy,” Mnangagwa said in his first speech, according to CNN. “We want peace in our country. We want jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Reuters reports that the new president on Nov. 28 announced a three-month amnesty for the return of public funds illegally stashed abroad by individuals and companies.

However, on Nov. 14, the youth leader of the ruling ZANU-PF party, Kudzai Chipanga, said that the former VP and General Constantino Chiwenga, who headed the military house arrest of Mugabe and his 52-year-old wife Grace Mugabe, allegedly are responsible for the disappearance of $15 billion in diamond revenues.

Chipanga stated that Mugabe, during his 92nd birthday celebration while being interviewed by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp., revealed the disappearance of the diamond revenue.

Many observers are charging that nothing has changed with the so-called new government.

“Why did Mnangagwa see fit to return the same acting finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, the same individual who led the freefall of the country’s economy, witnessed by today’s cash crisis?” asked Tendai Ruben Mbofana, a Zimbabwe-based social justice activist, in an email to the AmNews.

“All the major players against Mugabe do not come to the table with clean hands,” stated a Christian Science Monitor op-ed writer on Dec. 2. “If the history of the main characters in the ouster of Mugabe is anything to go by, things in Zimbabwe are likely to change, but remain the same,”