HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa has yielded to local and global pressure with a promise that next year’s elections will democratic, free and fair.
In his opening remarks at the Zanu PF extraordinary congress in Harare yesterday, Mnangagwa said his administration was committed to observing the rule of law, live and govern in accordance with the tenets of the liberation struggle, for failure to do so will result in damnation from Zanu PF, whatever rank or level.
“Democracy bids that as a political party, Zanu PF must always compete for office through pitting itself against opposition parties in elections which must be credible, free, fair and transparent… This we will continue to do as we have since independence and I have already announced that the 2018 general harmonised elections will be held as scheduled,” he said.
“In planning and conducting these elections, our position as the ruling party demands that we carry the nation we liberated, securing all who live within its borders, upholding the national Constitution, laws and values as well as defending and safeguarding our country’s sovereignty.”
There has been pressure on Mnangagwa to institute electoral reforms and ensure an end to human rights violations that saw the United States government impose sanctions on Zimbabwe and several high-profile Zanu PF officials in 2002.
When he assumed power on November 24, Mnangagwa reassured the US and other countries that he would be opening fresh avenues for re-engagement, stating that Zimbabwe had entered a new era.
But the US poured cold water on Mnangagwa’s re-engagement efforts by stating that Washington would not be lifting sanctions anytime soon unless such reforms were instituted and credible elections were held.
This also came as the main opposition, MDC Alliance, ratcheted up pressure on Mnangagwa by sending a delegation to Washington to explain the delicate Zimbabwean situation, which was meant to persuade Donald Trump’s administration and the US Senate to maintain its foreign policy position on Zimbabwe.
Mnangagwa who had been labelled a tribal chief by his predecessor Robert Mugabe emphasised that his presidency should not be viewed as a rise in the fortunes of a region, tribe or totem.
He insisted that his presidency was about a united Zanu PF, a national party with a national outlook.
“I stand before you therefore as the president of a united, non-racial Zimbabwe, itself home to many tongues, dialects, colours and age groups. I am a president of women and men; the young and the old, the able bodied and the physically challenged, the rich and the poor, the well and the sick.
“I am an emissary of all the war veterans and heroes, dead or alive who through their blood sketched the cause and mission which my presidency must promote, must actualise and advance.
“I am a president for Ndebeles, Shonas, Zezurus, Ndaus, Karangas, Manyikas, Vendas, Chewas, Sothos, Tongas. I am also president for the Tswanas, Shangaan, Nambyas, Khoisan and the English who are all celebrated in our national Constitution.”