We must remember that elections are about more than who returns the most votes. For the free and fair Zimbabwe that this election augurs cannot succeed without the opposition holding those in power to account – launching criticism in parliament, not stones in the streets.
This is not to make less of what occurred following the protests. However, for justice to function properly, it must be applied equally to all.
The opposition here too have a vital role: they must scrutinise the commission’s work at each step.
Although experts drawn from a range of opinion and backgrounds shall sit on the independent commission, we – both government and opposition – must ensure there is no bias through observation and inquiry.
Indeed, the role of opposition leader is critical to democracy’s function. The incoming administration will be weaker if not held to the checks and balances that parliament provides.
Were he to renege on this role, it will only sap the nascent democratic culture taking root.
Alleging fraud without substantiating it has a similar effect. In the absence of readily available evidence, it served only to polarise voters. Those who had believed the opposition leader’s claims had to do so in blind faith.
Without such faith, it is difficult to see where this fraud came from. The opposition, however, were fully within their rights to bring their case to court.
In fact, it is encouraging to see that the democratic and judicial tools available to them were exercised.
In full view of the evidence submitted, the courts found against their claim. Now we must come together to realise what the people of Zimbabwe call out for: prosperity, opportunity and accountability rooted in peace.
So when the jacaranda trees begin to bud, I hope to see the opposition leader criticising the government openly and transparently in parliament – as the people of Zimbabwe deserve. For then the purple blossom that signifies change will also represent health.
By Emmerson Mnangagwa for The Guardian