HARARE – While the move by the army to step in and put President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace under house arrest has been described as commendable by many Zimbabweans, the military should facilitate a return to constitutional rule as soon as is possible, thereby paving way for the holding of free and fair elections.
The army has achieved its purpose — that of removing the “dictator.”
While the political crisis in Zimbabwe has been with us for years on end, it has just taken a dramatic new twist with the only hindrance now being how to transition to a true democratic order.
Zimbabwe is now in uncharted paths and a lot will depend on the extent to which the military can hold steady and ensure compliance with immediate demands.
We would like to believe the army when it says it has not seized power but that they had just intervened to weed out the criminals around Mugabe.
The seizure though must not become permanent and it is Zimbabweans’ hope that this measure is only being done to manage processes towards a democratic resolution that will also see the army back in the barracks.
The role of Sadc, the African Union and United Nations will be important in the coming days as the army possibly with the help of the Speaker of Parliament and Chief Justice to set up an inclusive transitional authority under regional and international supervision.
The transitional authority should include the opposition political actors and possibly this will lead to the postponement of the 2018 elections to allow for stability and reforms.
The army must also tap into and involve civil society and the Church who have vast experience and knowledge in such governance issues as they deliberate on the way forward.
The transitional authority, which should be made up of professionals from various fields, should be mandated with overseeing proper governance, preparation for fresh elections and the setting out of a reform agenda.
The agenda of upholding the Constitution and human rights will be the responsibility of the chosen leadership and we urge the transnational authority to adhere to this principle.
Those chosen for this crucial role are encouraged to focus on restoring the prerogative of citizens to elect a government of their choice and it has to be soon in order to avoid a political and governance vacuum that opportunists can manipulate.
The transitional authority has a lot of work to do, including the alignment of legislation to the Constitution which for the past four years has been largely ignored by Mugabe’s government.
This is also the right time to action the much-needed electoral reforms which Zimbabweans have been fighting for without any success.
Time is of essence to all these processes and the holding of free and fair elections at the earliest possible time is paramount to the discourse which should ultimately lead to a new democratically-elected government of the people, for the people.
Zimbabweans are a peace-loving and forgiving nation; hence they should just allow Mugabe to step down without incident.
They should just forgive him and his family, so the country can start all over again to retrace its glory days where it was once the pride of Africa.
If Mugabe takes advice and steps down, this should allow Parliament to institute a constitutional change of leadership, which in Zimbabwe’s case means asking Zanu PF to second someone else.
It is everyone’s hope that the involvement of Sadc, the African Union and United Nations will not spoil our path to freedom but that these bodies will help in forging a permanent and lasting solution to Zimbabwe’s political problem, and in particular the issue of dictatorship.
And we urge the military to quickly finish off what they started because the longer they take, the easier for disgruntled groups to regroup and cause problems.
As Zimbabweans, we are hopeful that the army’s stepping in is paving our path to true democracy!