President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa made an impassioned plea to all Zimbabweans yesterday — calling on them to leave behind the country’s recent political turmoil and focus on the future by working hard to resuscitate the ailing local economy.
Mnangagwa’s call came as commerce and industry have bemoaned the economic uncertainty that has been created by the disputed July 30 presidential poll in which the Zanu PF strongman narrowly beat opposition leader Nelson Chamisa — who has since challenged that result in the Constitutional Court (Con-Court).
Addressing thousands of people at the National Heroes Acre yesterday, Mnangagwa said it was time for the country to move on, and to build a strong Zimbabwe that all citizens aspire for, irrespective of political affiliation.
“It is now time to put behind the election period behind us and embrace the future to achieve the Zimbabwe we all want. The task facing us today is a great one.
“Let us unite as Zimbabweans, revive our economy and rebuild our great nation. We should never be deterred by temporary setbacks or regrettable events which we encounter in our course to build an open, free, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwe,” he said.
“We are indeed building the Zimbabwe we want, growing the economy together and creating employment and improving the standards of living for everyone — where everyone is involved, irrespective of tribe, creed, gender, religion and party affiliation.
“Let us move forward with the same determination and a single mind, after all we share the same vision and dream for the country,” Mnangagwa added.
Millions of Zimbabweans cast their vote in the historic July 30 elections to choose both a new Parliament and president — following the dramatic fall from power of ousted former leader Robert Mugabe in November last year.
However, the peaceful campaigns and a friendly spirit that had characterised the run-up to the elections were marred in the aftermath of the polls when deadly violence broke out in Harare’s central business district (CBD), following clashes between opposition supporters and security agents.
At least seven people subsequently died when the army, which had apparently been called in to assist in managing the situation, used live ammunition to break the ugly protests.
Yesterday, Mnangagwa also urged Zimbabweans to resist the temptation of being separated by their political differences.
“It is indeed time for us to close ranks and collectively push our national agenda and forge our country to new frontiers of economic development.
“I urge all political parties to remain peaceful and to always strive to do that which is in the public good and that which is in the national interest.
“The time for politics is behind us. Now is the time for progress, action and delivery,” he told the gathered crowds.
Chamisa challenged Mnangagwa’s victory at the Con-Court on Friday, delaying the inauguration of Zimbabwe’s new leader in the process.
In determining the petition or application, the Con-Court may declare a winner or invalidate the election — in which case a fresh poll will have to be held within 60 days after the determination.
The July 30 harmonised elections were seen as a litmus test for Mnangagwa and his government, as their conduct was seen as determining whether the country would qualify for international bailouts and new investment or not.
Political analysts have said the violence and clampdown of opposition leaders might have already done a lot of harm to Mnangagwa’s quest to mend years of Zimbabwe’s frosty relations with Western governments.
They said until the post-poll anarchy, he had done enough to project himself and his administration as different from Mugabe — who was accused of running Zimbabwe into the ground.
Last Wednesday, United States President Donald Trump extended sanctions on Zimbabwe in the aftermath of the poll dispute and the ensuing damaging allegations of human rights violations.
This followed the treatment that MDC Alliance officials received, including opposition kingpin Tendai Biti who was manhandled at the Chirundu Border post while trying to seek political asylum in neighbouring Zambia on Tuesday.
Biti was later handed back to Zimbabwean authorities by the Zambians, and has since appeared in court where he was granted $5 000 bail.
Meanwhile, business leaders have warned that the current political stalemate, in the wake of the hotly-disputed presidential poll, has pushed the urgent need for the country to fix its ailing economy on the back-burner — as price hikes and severe shortages of cash, foreign currency and fuel continue to bite.
The president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR), Denford Mutashu, told the Daily News at the weekend that the political stalemate was not good for the country, and was affecting business badly.
“Its impact is to create a debilitating wait and see mode within the business sector … the parallel foreigners exchange rates are also on the rampage again, climbing back to 185 percent from 155 percent to the US dollar just before and during voting day.
“Business’ expectation is that the courts will bring the stalemate to finality soon, so that the country can move forward in unity and tranquillity,” he said.
Zimbabwe is currently in the grip of a huge economic crisis which analysts say can only be mitigated by international bailouts and fresh investment.
Recently, former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan said Zimbabwe’s economic challenges were so serious that whoever won the July 30 elections would need help to rebuild the country.
“The upcoming elections are the most significant for Zimbabwe since independence. The country faces serious challenges which will persist whoever wins.
“It is critical that everyone acts responsibly before, during and after the elections to ensure a Zimbabwe free from violence, where human rights are respected and prosperity restored,” the Nobel Peace laureate said during his visit to the country ahead of the polls.