On 24 October 2013, we came together to advance the agenda for a peaceful, democratic, free and prosperous Zimbabwe. We contended that this could be delivered by a genuine, effective and inclusive grand coalition and we campaigned vigorously for a united opposition. Paradoxically, President Mnangagwa’s ZANU PF government now seems to be better placed to deliver on this national aspiration after a grand coalition failed to materialise.
On 24 November 2017, ZUNDE issued a statement in which we welcomed the downfall of former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and the beginning of a new era.
We gave credit to and saluted the people of Zimbabwe who had been fighting against Mugabe for the last two decades even when the military and war veterans were fiercely and solidly behind him. We thanked the military and war veterans for finally standing by the people. We also challenged future governments to abandon forever any sense of entitlement to rule our country. We reminded them that Zimbabwe belongs to its people of all races.
We also took the opportunity to congratulate the incoming President E.D. Mnangagwa and wished him well as he picked up the pieces of a broken nation. ZUNDE reminded him that the responsibility for healing and rebuilding had now been placed on his shoulders. We called upon the new president to embrace his role as national leader of all people and not only of his party. We also implored him to desist from propaganda and sloganeering that might be appropriate for ZANU PF rallies but not in statements by the country’s President.
Most importantly, we called upon the President to focus on the following as a matter of priority:
- Establish good governance and the rule of law. This would require transforming the corrupted civil service and judiciary – while this is work in progress, a lot still needs to be done. Strong institutions of good governance need to be put in place. The government must come harder on corruption. We are not aware of any successful high profile prosecution for corruption. Retiring those overdue for retirement including some Permanent Secretaries is only the beginning, not the end of civil service transformation. A new values-based culture of service, transparency, accountability and respect (STAR) needs to be established in the civil service.
- Implement sound policies that will attract investment, revive the economy, and promote creation of jobs for our youths. Our commercial farmers of all races who want to return must be allocated land to farm in order to restore the agriculture sector, guarantee food security, and provide employment in rural areas. All farm seizures must stop immediately as must haphazard land redistribution carried out solely for political expediency. Zimbabwe should again become the breadbasket of southern Africa and never have to import food except in situations such as severe drought – We are pleased that this plea has not fallen on deaf ears. The appointment of Professor Mthulisi Ncube to drive economic revival is a step in the right direction. The Cabinet composition looks fair and sound. New ministers must be performance-managed not micromanaged. They must be empowered to deliver and those who fall short must be relieved of their duties.
- Initiate and implement a process of genuine healing and reconciliation to revive the spirit of the nation and return the country to normalcy – There is still some work to be done in this space. We hope people such as Dumiso Dabengwa and others will be considered to give impetus to this noble but important initiative. We renew ZUNDE’s call for an independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission to be established.
- End the culture of entitlement and impunity. Those guilty of heinous crimes including violence and corruption must answer for them. All monies stolen from the people must be accounted for and recovered – An attempt was made to get people to repatriate what they looted. There must be a legal instrument to give effect to this cause. National healing is paramount. Let us know the truth, forgive each other and move on.
- Combat and eliminate endemic corruption. ZUNDE deplores the way that corruption has been institutionalised in Zimbabwe. The new President must immediately and decisively move to root out corruption. Zimbabweans all over the world are willing and able to help establish good governance in Zimbabwe –There has been a lot of promising rhetoric about this which now needs to be matched with decisive action.
- Release all political detainees and grant a general amnesty to those facing politically motivated charges, including a blanket amnesty and pardon to all those exiled by the dictatorship for whatever reason to allow them to make a fresh start – While some detainees have been released, there has not been an official statement to give amnesty to all those who were forced to flee from Mugabe’s regime for one reason or another. This would go a long way towards building confidence. In this context, the denial by the Registrar General to issue a passport to Violet Gonda is most regrettable. Zimbabweans should not have to go to the ConCourt to obtain their basic rights.
- Implement processes to guarantee a free and fair election. At this early stage because of the people’s mistrust of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and its political overseers, conducting elections should be entrusted to agencies of the United Nations, the African Union and other credible bodies. International observers should be welcomed – There were significant improvements in this area. The opposition campaigned freely across the country. The presence of regional and international observers was most welcome. However, ZEC has some serous house-keeping to do in order to regain public confidence and trust.
- Implement electoral reforms including access to the media by all political parties participating in national elections. Also, to ensure the credibility of elections, the current Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must be reconstituted as a truly independent statutory body with new officers and chair that are impartial and professional. The current Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede is long overdue for retirement. He must go home – There has been little movement in this area. Mudede must go home! The State media must stop acting as if it was an organ of one political party.
- Depoliticise State institutions particularly the civil service, the ZRP and the military – while the ZRP is showing some signs of realignment, the entire security sector needs retraining and reorientation so that it is aligned to operating in a democratic environment. There are many countries around the world that would be happy to assist with this. ZUNDE is well-placed to facilitate the process if called upon to do so.
- Fully implement the Constitution and realign legislation to the Constitution. There is much to be done to forge a free, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe. The people are clear in their demands for change. They will accept nothing less than decisive and effective action from their new President – The President has shown some deviation from the past. Broadcasting of the ConCourt hearing and ruling for the electoral challenge was a milestone. Realignment of all relevant laws to the new Constitution must now be a priority. Government ministries and departments must stop acting as if they are not aware of the new Constitution. The Registrar General’s office is a chief culprit.
Having closely followed developments from November to date, there is no doubt that President Mnangagwa seems to be on the right track. Dropping career ministers and bringing in new faces, including respected technocrats, is an indication that the President means what he says. It would seem that Zimbabwe has a real chance to move forward under his leadership.
To our friends in the opposition, this is the time to assume the role of a responsible opposition in a democracy, namely to call the government to account and dislodge it at the next election if it fails.
Moses Chamboko can be contacted at [email protected]; @chimwaura
www.zunde.org , [email protected] , @zundezimbabwePost published in: Featured