Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has rejected the results of the 30 July elections and plans to inaugurate himself this weekend, further polarising the nation.
Afrobarometer says nothing less than a redeployment of substantial resources away from ensuring state control of society in favour of healing the torn fabric of society itself is required to heal the divided nation.
Here are some of the suggestions made by Zimbabweans on the way forward:
President Emmerson Mnangagwa must add substance to his inaugural slogan of “moving forward as one nation.” To make progress on this front, the government must first hold accountable those responsible for the indiscriminate killing of unarmed protesters on August 1, 2018. The President should also openly acknowledge that the close presidential race left his administration without a convincing political mandate. His official actions must disprove the nagging fears of one-third of the population (32%) – and more than half (56%) of MDC partisans – who think that “Mnangagwa will govern the same as Mugabe.” He must reach out to the 91% of opposition supporters who continue to think that ZANU-PF only looks after the interests of its own members. Inviting talented technocrats into an inclusive cabinet would be a helpful initial move. (Mnangagwa brought in Mthuli Ncube as Finance Minister and Kirsty Coventry as Youth and Sport Minister, the two are not members of his party but he did not include anyone from the opposition).
Nelson Chamisa should acknowledge the practical reality that the 2018 election is over and that he fell short in his quest for the presidency by toning down rhetoric. The opposition’s first task is to put its own divided house in order by bringing fragmented factions together. The proportion of the population who think that inter-party alliances would help the opposition win elections rose from 56% to 60% between May and July 2018. Going forward, the MDC Alliance should steer clear of electoral or parliamentary boycotts, which have been self-defeating in the past. Instead, the opposition should leverage its minority position in Parliament by continuing to push for meaningful reforms, including the repeal of repressive legislation and the strengthening of electoral laws.
The trend of growing militarization of political institutions, which accelerated after the November 2017 coup, should be reversed. Seven out of 10 Zimbabweans (71%) disapprove of a situation where “the army comes in to govern the country.” An even larger majority (78%) believe that the armed forces should limit themselves to their constitutional role of providing national security and “not be involved at all in the country’s politics”. For this reason, and following a clean-out of political deadwood across the public service, all government and parastatal appointees should be qualified civilians selected strictly on merit.
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