By Hopewell Chin’ono
So the election is now over, Emmerson Mnangagwa took the presidency with 50.8% and Nelson Chamisa got 44.3% of the national vote.
This was very close, but we all know from many other elections around the world that the days of the big electoral landslide are now long gone.
The MDC Alliance has signaled their intention to fight the election result, after they called it fake and a misrepresentation of what is in the ballot box.
They have a constitutional right to seek redress where they feel aggrieved. It is part of our laws and democracy.
The lawyers will now take up their positions as the dust up begins to play out in courts and in the court of public opinion.
We all know how it will pan out, the lawyers will make a lot of money out of the crisis and the cases will eventually be resolved politically.
The nation will watch the drama from the terraces and probably nothing meaningful will come out of it except for the lawyers and indeed the politicians and their surrogates.
This is the curse of a polarized nation and a never-ending political induced economic crisis that has gone on for a generation.
ZANU PF has the parliament on lockdown after taking in a two-thirds majority.
This to me is the vote that will matter more than anything else because parliament is where the laws will be made and undone.
This is the same place where the opposition is supposed to push for reforms, fat chance in my view with that parliamentary result.
This new Government and President have to start showing that they will be different from Robert Mugabe right from day one, from today.
It will take more than slogans and unfulfilled eloctoral promises for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to steer the country out of its current economic and social mess.
Any business as usual political attitude in the ruling party corridors, will see the country revert to the crisis mode and become difficult to govern for the new administration.
The truth is that Zimbabwe is a broken country at the moment and also the other inconvenient truth is that this crisis was created by successive ZANU PF administrations.
ZANU PF has now been given the electoral and administrative mandate to undo the damage that saw the country become a basket case.
We have NO local currency to speak of, we have no money in the cash machines or banks and we have NO economy to talk about.
This means that the new President must make bold political decisions and remove John Mangudya from the central bank and Patrick Chinamasa from the Finance ministry.
This is part of undoing the Robert Mugabe ruinous political legacy that saw the country become a laughing stock in the midst of comical appointments, that were meant to prop up Mugabe’s repressive and corrupt rule.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has NO excuses anymore for not removing deadwood from his cabinet, he now has the mandate to do so and if he is serious about change, he should do so now.
The only things that can save Zimbabwe in the short term are technocrats and a few highly skilled young Zimbabweans (without baggage) in key positions in government, particularly the Finance portfolio and the central bank.
We have many highly educated Zimbabweans working in these sectors around the world. The President needs to attract foreign direct investment and accentuate international reengagement.
This will not happen as long as he retains tainted ministers in his cabinet. The New Dispensation and Open for Business projects will not go anywhere if the poster boys and girls of corruption are retained.
If any of the following ZANU PF ministers are in his new cabinet, then it will be the same old wine in different bottles, Joram Gumbo, Prisca Mupfumira, Petronella Kagonye, Supa Mandiwanzira and Obert Mpofu.
They are not fit for purpose at all for any new political and economic dispensation. They are associated with the past deep-rooted state plundering which became the signature of Mugabe’s rule.
In fact, the new dispensation talk was a political illusion that many went along with in order to give President Mnangagwa space to unbuckle the country from Mugabe’s jaws.
His rule will only be judged as NEW based on the choices that he makes when he picks and announces his new cabinet.
If he retains any of the corrupt and or incompetent ministers back into his cabinet, he will not be able to govern the country well at all.
This will energize the opposition like never before and distract him from his core business of creating jobs and fixing the broken economy through foreign direct investment.
He will be reminded of how disingenuous his election promises have become if any of the ministers associated with corruption are brought back.
He promised a new Zimbabwe whilst on the campaign trail, he needs to deliver one and not dither by rewarding corrupt ZANU PF associates.
His political space to maneuver on the global stage has been temporarily and yet significantly emasculated and made difficult and tenuous by the extrajudicial killings that took place on Wednesday.
These killings have undone seven months of hard work in just a couple of minutes, something that made many to ask whether this was an act of deliberate sabotage from within the state.
How could anyone sane order the usage of live ammunition against unarmed civilians in front of a global audience watching international television and also in front of international election observers?
He has made the right move by calling for an inquiry to find out what exactly happened.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has signed up to a new code of conduct that Robert Mugabe refused to countenance.
This means that he will be expected to behave in a different way from Mugabe’s ruinous rule of terrible policies, corruption, incompetence, nepotistic behavior and repression.
This will require him to immediately go for the low hanging fruits like media reforms.
The state media has been a national embarrassment and their election coverage made Zimbabweans in the media industry cringe in from of a world audience that had its eyes on Zimbabwe.
The America sanctions law, The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act will not go away unless the President starts implementing the reforms he promised the American senators in April.
Winning seventy percent in parliament means that the President has a large pool of people to pick from.
He should retire people who have by and large or reasonably served the nation but are now past their sell by date.
Folks like S.K. Moyo, David Parirenyatwa, Patrick Chinamasa, Sydney Sekeramayi, Cain Mathema, Sithembiso Nyoni, Josiah Hungwe and many others like them.
Their place is in an elder’s council that he can use to manage party issues. This election was about jobs and the economy, it was about young people and their aspirations.
These young people will be de-motivated if the old ZANU PF brigade is reappointed into cabinet once more. Doing so will be the quickest way to de-campaign ZANU PF and assuring itself of a crushing election defeat in 2023.
There will be more than 1million young people added to the voters roll for the 2023 elections.
Some of these young people are 13 years old today, they have nothing in common with folks like Parirenyatwa, Hungwe, Chinamasa, Nyoni and many like them.
The opposition should keep an eye on what the government will be doing. Nelson Chamisa has an uphill task if he decides to fight the election result in courts or on the streets as he promised.
Conceding as he did to a parliamentary defeat and accepting the results makes it really unimaginable to sell an argument that he won the presidential race, possible as it maybe.
That coupled with keeping together a coalition of seven parties won’t be an easy task at all for a new and young leader without proper structures outside urban areas.
He won’t be in parliament, so he will have to run the party from Harvest House, the MDC party headquarters.
The best bet for him is to get a slot in a coalition arrangement in order to remain politically relevant or to stay politically vigilant by taking his troops into the streets from time to time over pertinent and popular policy issues.
He is young and dangerously ambitious, that should keep ZANU PF on its toes because judging by this election campaign, 2023 will be a tough and different ball game all together if the opposition remains united.
President Mnangawa really has to depart from the old and ugly ZANUPF past. This is quite possible, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson did it with New Labour.
The President needs to create a new ZANU PF that is in tune with the new global realities and the needs of the youth who are now in an exceedingly huge majority!
A return to the old past repressive and undemocratic ways will only see things get worse economically and force ZANU PF to use unacceptable tactics to remain in control.
The President has been elected and the country gave his political party a two-thirds parliamentary majority.
Let us allow him to govern and let us support him because he is now a President for both those that voted for him and the ones that voted for other candidates.
Working to sabotage him will be no different to sabotaging ourselves at a personal level.
There are many people who have personal vendettas with Emmerson Mnangagwa, we should not be drawn into their side shows as many unsuspectingly did during the election campaign.
Responsible citizens should do all that is possible to unite this great nation, we are after all, Zimbabweans.
The citizens have a big job ahead of themselves, they have to put their shoulders to the wheel and make their country work again.
This is not a time for the winners to gloat or for the election losers to derail the national regeneration project.
This is only the beginning of a long torturous road ahead in undoing years of economic ruin by Robert Mugabe and his previous ZANUPF administrations.
President Mnangagwa will need our support in order for him to kick-start that new regeneration project. He should also be reminded that he has been given power, it also comes with responsibility.
His government should use the big parliamentary majority responsibly. Zimbabwe must come first before party political considerations.
His predecessor put himself first, the party and then the nation, that should be a thing of the past.
Zimbabwe is our country, Emmerson Mnangagwa is now our elected President and Nelson Chamisa is now our official opposition leader.
We should respect them and assist them to find peace and allow the nation to have a chance to recover from the groaning pain of the past twenty years.
Hopewell Chin’ono is an award winning Zimbabwean international Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker. He is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and a CNN African Journalist of the year.
He is also a Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Africa leadership Institute.
Hopewell has a new documentary film looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe called State of Mind
Hopewell can be contacted at [email protected] or on twitter @daddyhope