After interventions by the army and his own party, Robert Mugabe has resigned as president of Zimbabwe. He reigned over the country for 37 years. The big question is what is to come, with former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa in power. Mejury Shiri hopes for free and fair elections.
‘We Zimbabweans are a patient people. For years, people have been waiting for the end of the Mugabe era. It should be noted, though, that he was kept in power rather democratically, because many Zimbabweans – especially older people – believe in the ruling party ZANU-PF. I feel that, during the past, young people did not actively participate in democratic processes in Zimbabwe. They often failed to register for voting. I think that recently young people have become more educated and aware of their role in the political system. This was already visible in the solidarity march on November 18th, when Mugabe was peacefully urged to resign.
Of course, I do realize that the departure of Mugabe might not necessarily mean a different kind of regime. If former vice president Mnangagwa takes power, the same policies are likely to continue. We have not been oppressed by Mugabe directly, but the regime was too powerful. Thus, the main question is: how do we keep checks and balances on the president and how do we prevent any abuse of power? Our leaders need to recognize that we cannot live in isolation, despite the historical context of being liberated from colonialism. Instead of a continuation of the same regime, I would rather have free and fair elections, which are scheduled for next year anyhow. For the people of Zimbabwe, and for my generation specifically, it would be a chance to elect a leader whom we believe will act according to our great values. Because I really believe that people in Africa care most deeply about each other.’ ’