Zimbabwe: What citizens want from President Mnangagwa



Harare, Zimbabwe – Thousands of Zimbabweans from all walks of life have celebrated the inauguration of the country’s third president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, a man in whom many are placing their hopes for the future.

Mnangagwa is taking over from Robert Mugabe, the 93-year-old longstanding leader who resigned as the country’s president on Tuesday after 37 years in power.

Inaugurated on Friday, Mnangagwa symbolises a potential change from his predecessor.

He promised economic change, political inclusiveness and unity in his inauguration speech, saying that the country belongs to “the [bigger] family of nations”.

Al Jazeera spoke to Zimbabweans on the issues they want the country’s new president to tackle:

Theresa Hanga, 53, war veteran

Theresa Hanga, 53, says she hopes the new president is ‘not like Mugabe’ [Tendai Marima/Al Jazeera]

I came all the way from Rusape [a small town 175km east of Harare] to see the new president being put in charge and I’m just so happy that we have a new person to lead us.

I was a chimbwido [a female “war collaborator”] during the war. I was a young girl who would cook for the soldiers and tell them when the colonial soldiers were coming.

If it had not been for us working as their spies and feeding them, it would have been very difficult for them to win the liberation struggle, so I hope the new president will consider the needs of “war collaborators”.

He must not be like Mugabe who forgot us when he got into power.

Alice Mubaiwa, 48, vendor

Mubaiwa says she wants police to stop arresting Zimbabwean vendors [Tendai Marima/Al Jazeera]

I’m very happy with the change in leadership and my biggest cry as a vendor is that there must be a change in the way the police treat us. I hope the fact that we now have a new president will mean this.

When they raid us, they round us up take us to the station and fine us $20 and they take our things. I have been arrested two times because I could not pay the fine, and when I came out, the police never returned my vegetables.

I hope President Mnangagwa will stop the police from treating us like this.

I’m just struggling to send my children to school and to survive, but if the police keep taking my things, then how do I live?

Tendai Madanzi, 38, university administrator

Madanzi says he has little to show for himself despite 20 years of work [Tendai Marima/Al Jazeera]

I’ve been working for the past 20 years … but I feel like I’ve got nothing to show for it.

I should be accumulating things while I’m still energetic and I have the ability to do it, but I can’t.

I didn’t leave Zimbabwe like other people. It was my choice to stay and build my life here.

So I hope the new president will consider that those who didn’t leave Zimbabwe also deserve to earn a decent living and live a comfortable life.

Vernon Chidonga, 23, unemployed graduate

Chidonga says youth need more job opportunities in Zimbabwe [Tendai Marima/Al Jazeera]

I studied chemical engineering in Cuba, but since I graduated in 2015, I’ve not been able to find work.

I hope that the inauguration of a new president will mean that there will be more opportunities for young and qualified people.

I have lots of expectations of President Mnangagwa and I hope the system of appointing people because of connections or because of [their] tribe will come to an end.

The government should give people jobs and opportunities because they are capable and not because they are related [to them] or they have been paid something.

Those who are capable of delivering deserve to be given a chance to empower themselves.

Silent Chifere, 25, vendor

Chifere came to the city in hopes of finding a good job, but now sells mangoes [Tendai Marima/Al Jazeera]

Today shows there could be a big change in our country and I’m happy for that. But if we want Zimbabwe to succeed, then President Mnangagwa must find a way to solve this economic problem of ours.

I moved from the rural areas to the city with the hope of finding a job, but now I’m here in the streets selling mangos.

I should be the one buying mangoes on my way home from work instead of being the one who sells them.

This really hurts me and I hope Mnangagwa can be a man who can create opportunities, not like Mugabe who destroyed so many.

Follow Tendai Marima on Twitter and Instagram @i_amten.


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