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Open Letter to President Mugabe on Zimbabwe's Future

Open Letter to President Mugabe on Zimbabwe's Future

Your Excellency, I write to bring to your attention a number of concerns that I have, first and foremost as a young Zimbabwean desirous of a better future for Zimbabwe, but also as a human rights activist closely following political developments in our country. I believe, for reasons I will outline below, that it would be in the best interests of both Zimbabwe at large and your party ZANU-PF if you urgently lay out plans to renew leadership in your party and in government.

I have taken it upon myself to write this letter to you and to request a meeting in person, should you be willing and available, to be certain beyond doubt that these sentiments, which I believe are widely shared among ordinary Zimbabweans and even within ZANU-PF but which may not be reaching you for various reasons, will be conveyed to you through this open letter. It may be that those closest to you are, for their own selfish reasons, not telling you the truth about Zimbabwe's perilous situation that is heightened by the uncertainty of the future after your tenure. In fact, some maybe, are deliberately misleading you to believe that the future of Zimbabwe and even of ZANU-PF is only assured with you at the helm. That view is clearly false and, as the wikileaks cables have revealed, there could be several senior figures within your party who privately express contrary, but more accurate views that there is an urgent to plan for life after your tenure.

Well before the wikileaks revelations, one of your party politburo members, Jonathan Moyo, had already intimated that you 'had become the embodiment of the institutionalized crisis [in Zimbabwe] such that your departure alone would be cathartic for the country.' Zimbabwe needs a fresh start; now is the time to create space for the younger generation, which Moyo has called the generation 40, to take over leadership at party and government level. Passing on the button to the younger leaders would help rescue your legacy and secure the future of the country and perhaps it will spur ZANU-PF to reform and survive under new leadership.

Your failure to have a clear succession plan presents the country with a risk of descending into anarchic chaos in the period following your tenure. The anarchy that is likely to ensure will not only be from ZANU-PF members jostling to take over, but also other quarters especially considering how the governance structure and culture created and nurtured over the last three decades revolves around your person.

Your centrality to Zimbabwe's governance infrastructure means that you are also central through the mechanism of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) to initiating and pushing through fundamental reforms that can usher a brighter future for Zimbabwe based on strong, democratic, truly Zimbabwean institutions that safeguard the best interests of all Zimbabweans, particularly the most vulnerable members of our society. If Zimbabwe fails to institute credible reforms to end all forms of violence, intimidation and hate speech while you are still around, then achieving those reforms without you will be much more difficult as the edifice created around you is likely to break into a thousand pieces.

Your Excellency, the call for peace and harmonious co-existence by Zimbabweans from different political persuasions you made during the burial of general Solomon Mujuru last month is positive and most welcome. However, my view is that such a call needs to be backed by swift action to bring perpetrators of serious human rights abuses to book and by clear indications on your part regarding renewal of leadership within your party and in government.

I sincerely hope therefore, that the following months should be devoted to a serious reflection on the future of the country and how best to pass on the button in a way that guarantees peace and stability within the country and in a way that gives your party a fighting chance to survive in the era after you. Although your party may have, at the last ZANU-PF congress, endorsed your candidature for president in the next elections, I strongly believe that the best course of action in the interests of the country would be to initiate a solid succession and leadership renewal plan.

Your Excellency, next February you will turn 88 - you have been blessed with a long life - and you deserve to spend time with your family too. Rather than presenting yourself again as presidential candidate, my view is that your greatest remaining contribution is to lead your party and government in putting in place the necessary electoral reforms to ensure that the next time we have elections, they will not be a mere ritual, but will be meaningful, where each vote counts and is given freely in the total absence of fear.

It will be a great achievement that all Zimbabweans will cherish that, as part of your legacy, you left behind a united, peaceful and prosperous nation occupying its rightful place in the family of nations.

By Dewa Mavhinga, Crisis in Zimbabwe Regional Coordinator

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