Zanu PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa rode to victory as the country’s president after a competitively contested election that took place last week and featured for the first time international observers from as far as the European Union including the African Union.
Although the election result was met by street protests from disgruntled opposition elements in that country, the process itself has been hailed as largely free as citizens enjoyed for the first time in 38 years unprecedented political freedoms to campaign and air opinions.
After burning the candle through what came out as a long Thursday night last week, The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s results were that Mnangagwa had won by 50.8% votes compared to Nelson Chamisa’s 44.3%.
Mnangagwa came close to facing a run-off and immediately took to his now favourite social media platform, Facebook, to express his emotions to the rest of the world.
“Thank you Zimbabwe! I am humbled to be elected President of the Second Republic of Zimbabwe. Though we may have been divided at the polls, we are united in our dreams. This is a new beginning. Let us join hands, in peace, unity & love, & together build a new Zimbabwe for all!”
As the result put to rest anxiety and a thick air of curious anticipation, The Villager caught up with Zimbabwean expatriates working in Namibia to capture their immediate reaction and what they made of the final result as well as whether it rose their hopes of a possible dawn of a new era that would put an end a long drawn out economic exile for some.
For Lukas Chinembiri, an IT expert who left the country thirteen years ago, the election result is good news to business people within the primary industry like agriculture and mining, areas in which the country needs so much of investments.
“Not for us who are into services. Zimbabwe is in need of money so it’s the big companies really like BP and De Beers that can go there and the Chinese as well. Remember this president as well as VP Chiwenga have been in China during that time around the coup. So I smell a Chinese hand in the elections because they have interests.”
“For people like me who came to Namibia and have a company that provides IT services to go back to Zimbabwe right now, forget. I still need to have access to my money from banks without all these bureaucracies even if I go there,” he said.
For Tarisai Mabhaudhi news of a Zanu PF victory have dashed all hopes for her to go back home again.
She said that the elections had all the elements of being rigged because, “I saw several videos of stuff happening that was not right. So there won’t be any going back any time soon. It’s still the same regime.”
Dean for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Namibia, Prof. Jairos Kangira lamented that decisions for the country have been made without the diaspora vote.
“It does not make sense to rely on votes in the country alone. We send money back home and its like we are there,” he said.
He condemned the violence that erupted soon after the National Assembly results which culminated into the death of some: “There is no need for a single life to be lost because of an election.”
The professor took time however to hail the president-elect for fostering an atmosphere of freedom ahead and during elections.
Director for Glowshot Capital, Tawanda Zhanje also said at a personal level the election result came out as a tragedy.
“Mnangagwa has been there for eight months, let us not talk of the 38 years that he has been there, but there has not been any real transformation. The policies of Zanu PF remain there,” he said.
Pressed on whether Mnangagwa’s effort to reach out to diasporans beefed up by his “Zimbabwe is open of business” mantra was anything to go by, Zhanje said it would be suicidal to jump back home when the change has not been realised.
“How many jumped to his call and some of them are stuck now? Most have jumped back to south Africa,” he said.
Accounting expert Thulani Tigere regarded the victory of Zanu PF as quite of a surprise to him and blamed the opposition party for failing to do things differently to wrestle power.
He blamed Chamisa for dragging people into an election when there was no level playing field and campaigning in the party’s traditional strongholds which are cities and towns without effectively invading the rural sections.
“The hope of going back home, that chance has decreased each day. The life we live now, one would take a long time to readjust once home. You know for instance that what you would call taking your girlfriend for a date here in Namibia does not mean the same for a guy who is living in Zimbabwe right now. For families to remain intact everybody needs to be where they are right now,” he said.
Will the election legitimize Mnangagwa’s position as president of Zimbabwe and finally lift sanctions that have crippled the country to its knees?
Time will tell.