Editorial Comment: Be a Statesman, Mr President, and heal the country

AT the weekend, we carried reports in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga took turns to attack main opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa and calling him a ‘little bishop’ and a false prophet; language reminiscent of the electioneering period.

Editorial Comment

Chamisa, in turn, responded, by urging Mnangagwa and Chiwenga to stop wasting their energy fighting him, but to redirect their energy towards the real problem – the free-falling economy.

It is not a secret that Zimbabwe’s economy is in the doldrums, characterised by a crippling currency crisis, price increases, unemployment and shortages of goods — all because we’ve perpetually remained engrossed in election mode.

In addition to that, Zimbabwe — which is not self-sufficient —is still lagging behind in terms of infrastructure development, and it will take major efforts by all Zimbabweans to rebuild this country and return it to its breadbasket status.

Socially, the country is bleeding from years of politically-motivated violence, State-sponsored conflicts and political polarisation.

It does not need a rocket scientist to deduce that the core of Zimbabwe’s problems are political, and that the buck stops with the government of the day, led by Mnangagwa.

For the past 38 years, and in particular the past five years, the country has experienced endless political contestations that have distracted attention from developmental issues that government must work on. Despite winning elections in 2013, with unchecked political power, then President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party’s infighting meant that the country remained on the political campaign path, with scant attention paid to a free-falling economy.

Despite his declarations to the contrary, Mnangagwa risks going the same way if he does not reign in the bloodthirsty hardliners in his party and refocus the narrative on the economy. It’s not in great shape, whatever happens to the mega deals he was busy announcing in the run-up to the elections.

We want to believe it is not beyond Mnangagwa to develop into a Statesman he thinks he is or could become. He has time on his hands, and this is still the genesis of a five-year-term, but he needs to cut the vitriol and engage, not ostracise those who can help him rebuild this country we all call home.

Given his own history and the long road he has travelled to the top office, Mnangagwa must now have learnt that the best way to national development is to embrace everyone and call on all stakeholders, political and otherwise, to the table to chart the much-needed way forward for our country.

Mnangagwa may feel that his controversial July 30 victory has given him all to do what he pleases, but he must always remember that the Zimbabwe he is leading is a country that is characterised by fear, polarisation, dejection and frustration, leaving little room for national development.

There is an urgent need for genuine, people-centred national healing and reconciliation, and an integration of all the stakeholders in order for the nation to start moving forward.

Zimbabweans have waited for much too long, but like the grain being eaten by weevils, its society is fast turning into dust.

Unless he gathers the willpower and realise it is his only chance to reintegrate Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa, like his predecessor Mugabe, will leave a legacy of anger, segregation and hate behind him.