President Emmerson Mnangagwa began his second and final term yesterday with the daunting task of uniting the nation after a disputed poll which observers said did not meet regional and international benchmarks.
The sword of Damocles hanging over his reign will be the legitimacy issue with the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change party pinning its hopes on Sadc and the African Union after it opted not to challenge the election results at the Constitutional Court.
He will have to face the regional bloc Sadc, especially, after the bloc stood by the preliminary report of its observer team that the elections did not meet regional and international standards which drew the ire of Zanu PF heavyweights.
Despite the controversy over the election results and the furore over the Sadc observer mission report, three presidents from the region — Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique) and Felix Tshisekedi (Democratic Republic of Congo) — graced the event, alongside Sadc executive secretary Elias Magosi.
Other presidents in the region sent representatives.
This is a plus for Mnangagwa.
The acrimony created by the disputed elections has drawn a wedge between Mnangagwa and the three stakeholders he has been desperately wooing— the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom.
The trio has been vocal about the electoral process and is holding Mnangagwa to account especially after he promised to deliver free, fair and credible elections.
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The same group is helping Zimbabwe to resolve its external debt crisis and will use the election as a yardstick on the country’s reform promises.
Internally, Mnangagwa has an economy which requires corrective surgery.
Declarations that zvakarongeka (it's all in order) when millions are not feeling the same no longer hold water. The effects of an economy on growth trajectory trickle down to citizens.
The local currency is on its way out with over 80% of domestic transactions now being conducted in United States dollars despite claims by authorities that the Zimdollar is here to stay.
Annual inflation is on the high side at 77,2% in August, the highest in the region. Interest rates are the highest on the continent; and at 150% per annum, discourage local currency borrowing which has accelerated US$ loans amid fears from analysts that such a move fuels the redollarisation of the economy.
President Mnangagwa must also deal with the elephant in the room: corruption. Despite an anti-corruption crusade, the wheels have moved slowly especially on matters involving the chefs with critics saying the catch and release system has impacted Zimbabwe’s anti-graft drive.
In the run up to the elections, Mnangagwa made promises. The elections are over and the thousands that thronged the National Sports Stadium celebrating Mnangagwa’s ascendancy to the throne are expecting results.
As Mnangagwa danced to Jah Prayzah’s hit song Chiremerera yesterday, it could not have escaped him that the throne he ascended to requires him to put his shoulder to the wheel.
Real work begins.