For the first time in Zimbabwe’s troubled 38-year history as an independent nation, her people were able to go to the polls yesterday in an atmosphere of peace.
Notwithstanding the complaints from various politicians – and that the electoral commission reported both leading candidates for contraventions of the voting regulations – the day went off peacefully.
With that calm came a sense that, after decades of depredations under Robert Mugabe, Zimbabweans can see a new dawn of democracy, freedom and, along with that, prosperity.
The race between incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa – who led the overthrow of Mugabe in November – and his Movement for Democratic Change Alliance rival Nelson Chamisa, is still too close to call.
Whether either side will accept defeat, if that is what the polls show, is the biggest cause for concern.
Chamisa has laid the ground to claim irregularities – something Mnangagwa’s Zanu-PF party has developed to a fine art in previous elections – and there are worries if the ruling party loses, there could be a violent pushback from the military.
Now is the time for cool heads. If the election is declared free and fair, everybody must accept the result and move forward. Zimbabwe’s suffering must come to an end.