THE recent call by United States senator, Chris Coons, that President Emmerson Mnangagwa must walk the talk on reforms, cannot be wished away especially now when the world is closely watching each and every step we make to find out if indeed, as the Zanu PF leader claims, we have turned the corner.
Ignoring Coons’ observations would not help the country’s bid to break away from its dark past and shed off its bad boy image.
The American official’s call for less talking and more action on the part of Mnangagwa’s administration, is in sync with what a lot of Zimbabwean citizens both at home and in the diaspora have always been clamouring for, particularly following the unceremonious ouster of the country’s autocratic leader, Robert Mugabe, last November.
Apart from saying all the right things and giving good sound bites to the media and his own Zanu PF supporters, Mnangagwa has not done much on the ground to prove his reformist agenda.
Coons says the US is not convinced that the current conditions in the country do meet basic guidelines on free and fair elections be they Sadc, EU or AU and warned that if these are not met, the US government would maintain its sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Today, the MDC-T and its allies in the opposition are taking to the streets, demonstrating against Mnangagwa’s failure to reform the electoral roadmap. That alone, attracts unnecessary bad publicity for a country badly in need of international recognition and acceptance.
It is time Mnangagwa breaks away from Mugabe’s shadow and set this nation on a democratic trajectory to win over the world’s trust and facilitate economic recovery.
Zanu PF and its candidate will not lose anything by opening up media space, allowing for open tender of ballot papers and giving the opposition an analysable biometric voters’ roll.
Attempts to play hide-and-seek games with such key tenets of democracy only serves to set Zimbabwe on a contested poll, and with it comes the battle of legitimacy and exclusion, which poor Zimbabweans can ill afford at the moment.
Mr President, you have promised to deliver a free and fair election. You have also promised to be a listening President and to cap it all, almost all your speeches have been characterised by the punch line — “the voice of the people is the voice of God”. If, indeed, you believe that statement, you have no reason to refuse to liberalise the electoral environment, unless otherwise.
Act on these promises and leave a legacy that will follow you for the rest of your life and years after. Let the people of Zimbabwe get a chance to escape from these political tug of wars. If you lose the election after delivering a free, fair and credible poll, your name will be in the Zimbabwean Hall of Fame. Winning in the centre of dispute will not make you any better than Mugabe Deliver – stop talking, just act.