The July 30 poll was supposed to signify the birth of the Second Republic, anchored on the new Constitution and driven by a legitimate government with an undisputed mandate from the people.
Guest column: Munyaradzi Ziburawa
The Second Republic was supposed to be a paradigm shift from politics of the old, characterised by politics of entitlement, thuggery, violence and intimidation to an inclusive democracy in which diversity is celebrated and the rule of law and constitutionalism are sacrosanct.
The disputed poll outcome and the post-election developments have, however, turned the dream of a Second Republic into a nightmare.
Events of August 1, which saw the nation losing seven precious lives at the hands of the predatory State machinery — and the subsequent crackdown on opposition politicians by suspected State security agents — are clearly against the spirit of the Second Republic.
Tendai Biti, a prominent opposition leader, had to flee to Zambia, citing persecution from the military, but was later bundled back.
Countless other opposition members are reported to be currently in safe houses following threats and intimidation from suspected security agents. It’s simply a nightmare.
It’s a fact that in the July 30 poll, which is now under legal contestation, 49,2 % of Zimbabweans rejected President Emmerson Mnangagwa, even by the disputed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declaration.
Zimbabweans who rejected the incumbent have their reasons and were acting within their constitutional rights.
No retribution can be justified whatsoever.
In fact, the onus is upon the incumbent to work extra hard to gain the faith and confidence of half of the voters who rejected him.
Scenes of August 1 and reports of targeted harassment do not inspire confidence.
It is unfortunate that some ministers, who are in government courtesy of the coup of November 2017, assume that Zimbabweans enjoy freedom at the benevolence and mere goodwill of government.
So authoritarian is their inclination to the extent that they view Zimbabweans as enjoying “too much freedom”.
Such naivety, supported by one diplomat from a conflict-ridden country with a history of postponing elections, is sickening, to say the least.
Such retrogressive authoritarian views by those who control the means of force are unfortunate and cannot be the preface to the Second Republic.
Freedoms are constitutional entitlements and the State has an obligation to ensure that they become a lived reality of the Second Republic.
Terrorising civilians in high-density suburbs and rural areas and images of August 1, which were vividly captured by local and international media, cannot be the characterisation of the Second Republic.
The militarisation of political discourse and arguments which reached climax in the coup of November 2017 and which the majority of Zimbabweans celebrated, including this writer, is now haunting the Second Republic.
With the benefit of hindsight, some honourable Zimbabweans have taken to social media to apologise for their celebration of the military intervention in the Zanu PF succession dispute.
I take this opportunity to also offer my apology and sincere regret to the nation for my participation in the public endorsement of the November 18 military action against a sitting President.
Our esteemed defence forces should be confined to the barracks and focus on defending the republic from external threats and never again be used against fellow unarmed countrymen.
The appetite to unleash real power against unarmed countrymen and women displayed on August 1 should never have been publicly encouraged on November 18. It’s a regrettable error.
We join the rest of the world in condemning the recklessness and abuse of power as displayed on August 1.
We welcome with reservation the promise of an independent commission of inquiry into the tragedy of August 1 by those who should have known better than deploy real power on civilians.
Our heartfelt condolences go to families who lost their loved ones in the tragic events of this day.
The fear and uncertainty that has gripped the nation following use of real power against civilians in the post election period constitutes negative peace. It is not peace, it is not sustainable.
The absence of open hostilities and violence do not necessarily signify peace; rather, fear abounds.
The international perception of a military State is growing by the day, as repressions and harassment of civilians continue.
Images and narratives that have gone far and wide on the abuses of real power against civilians do not speak to the values befitting the Second Republic.
Zimbabweans envisaged a Second Republic which re-engages with the international community and reclaims Zimbabwe’s esteemed position in the community of nations.
The narratives so far have eroded all efforts at re-engagement.
Screaming headlines from London to New York, all point to an emerging pariah State in which the law of the jungle operates.
Widespread condemnation of the treatment of Biti and State excesses have been echoed by the European Union, the United States and Canada as well as by the United Nations.
US President Donald Trump did not hesitate to append his signature to the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act of 2018 (S 2779) in the context of the post-election developments in Zimbabwe.
Far from being open for business, the narrative is closing out capital.
As the July 30 poll outcome takes a legal twist, the judiciary has an onus obligation to show the world that the Second Republic is, indeed, a constitutional democracy.
The independence of the judiciary should be a lived reality, experienced and felt in the progressive impartial judgments the courts will make.
This is key, especially in the context of a perceived military State.
Civil society has to continue, albeit in even more difficult circumstances, to mobilise citizen engagement around socio-economic and political issues of the day as well as document State excesses.
The media should continue to project and document State excess far and wide, without fear or favour.
Underpinning the Second Republic should be a transformation from politics of the old to vibrant democratic and developmental politics.
Zimbabweans envisage a developmental democracy that adheres to constitutionalism and guarantees individual freedoms.
After all, development, in all essence, is expansion of human freedoms.
Human freedoms include freedom from fear and want.Such a republic is currently trapped between a dream and a nightmare.