Where do I even begin as I try to unravel this historic moment for Zimbabwe. The intoxication of the sights and roaring of that unforgettable Tuesday – November 21 afternoon. The moment when hundreds of thousands took it to the streets to celebrate an announcement that others had so hungrily waited for and even died before finally hearing it. An announcement of Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s resignation. The smiles, shouts and songs were spectacular along the streets of Harare and beyond. To some this was the ultimate moment that a generation has been waiting for but for me personally it was a moment of reflection.
I tried to absorb the magnitude of Mugabe’s resignation and one thing which was clear was Zimbabwe was and is at crossroads. As soon as the speaker of parliament announced the resignation of Mr Mugabe, it dawned on me that indeed this was an end of an era. An end of an age where everything that makes society tick was built around a single figure. An era where the name Robert Mugabe was so sacred that the moment one would utter his name publicly, onlookers would disperse with the speed of light. A man who had rule Zimbabwe for 37 years since its emancipation from colonialism. A controversial figure whose legacy divides opinion as some see him as a Pan African whose legacy is being destroyed by the West and peddlers of neo colonialism.
But to some of us youth, he was nothing short of a brutal dictator who mastered brutality and greed under the guise of anti neo colonialism. The fact that he was 93 years old and was still willing to go for another 5 years presidential term speaks volumes of the type of leader Zimbabweans have been subjected to. It is still vulgar to even refer to Mr Mugabe as ‘‘former president” because of this startling fact. Throughout my life I have only known one president and one president only.
That resignation announcement placed me in a space of conflicting energies. I am in the midst of hope and fear as I do not know exactly what to expect from the new presidium. The announcement marked our journey into the unknown. Yet with the hope that we will land safely. For 37 years Zimbabwe has been under a rulership of a system that criminalized key freedoms which some even brand as dictatorial but for all those years the only tool that sustained the general populace was hope. It is in the same vein and spirit that I carry certain aspirations. There is a unanimous agreement that this transition has to come with the ushering in of a new democratic dispensation above everything.
As a young man, I want to be able to walk in a voting booth knowing that my vote will genuinely count in a free and fair election. I want to be able to openly air out my opinions without fear of being jailed or beaten. Economically Zimbabwe has struggled to regain its erstwhile strong economic status which was once described by the former Tanzanian president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere as “the jewel of Africa”. It is my hope and that of my people that Zimbabwe’s new president will be able to steer the economic ship into stable waters by implementing investment and development oriented policies. This is a popular sentiment across a country where it is estimated that 90% (predominantly youths) are unemployed and I do earnestly pray that the much-needed economic growth aids with job creation.
My country has highly skilled human capital. I wish to see that availability of resources and practical opportunities to link this human capital with substantive platforms for economic growth to aid a fully functioning country. Socially we need to mend the social fabric that has been torn apart by prostitution and crime as a result of rising levels of poverty.
Zimbabwe enjoyed relative stability during the inclusive government phase (2009-2013) and it is in the same frame that I believe that the best governance option is to form a broad transition government to pave way for a free and fair election. I am conscious of the fact that Zimbabwe’s problems are multi headed and institutionalized. This therefore requires a broad base of ideas to tackle them. A multi partisan transition might be key to healing and developing our land. Considering the type of individuals that make up the regime that the new president will head, I must express that I do have the niggling doubt and reservations.
My reasons are based on this key fact. Zimbabwe is ushering in a new president and not a new system or political party. My fears relates the reality that there is not going to be a change in political culture therefore dampening the expectations which the general populace has. ZANU PF (the governing party) is a party with a firm ideology rested upon the clusters of ancient socialism so it remains to be seen if there is going to be a paradigm shift in the style of governance which many believe was the reason why Zimbabwe’s socio-political and economic structures crumbled.
Another concern relates to the fact that due to the hand of the military in this political power transition, we as a country might be setting ourselves up in the long run. Military interference in democratic processes is always a NO and my fear is that we are setting a dangerous precedent by ululating whilst the military takes the lead in deciding on who has to govern and not the ordinary masses.
A new chapter has begun in Zimbabwe. Today we dance to the drums of emotion. Today we celebrate. But tomorrow we sober up and we begin the pursuit of fresh dreams.Praying and believing that the new President will lead our country into new glory.
God Bless Zimbabwe as we take new steps towards creating the Zimbabwe we want with the hope that this is will contribute into the continental pursuit of the Africa we want.
Rukudzo Kahlari – Zimbabwe YAC 2017