The once much-awaited polls in Zimbabwe have come and gone, returning President Emmerson Mnangagwa to power on 50.8% of the vote.
It will be mere politicking to suggest that nearly half of the electorate did not choose him as their leader. That is the nature of the electoral process - some leaders have governed their countries on the back of far lesser mandates.
After 37 years of iron-fisted misrule by deposed former strongman Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe deserves a new chance, a new lease of life. There are many Zimbabweans who have lived - and died - knowing only one president, the irascible and belligerent Mad Bob.
The “Crocodile” or “ED”, as President Mnangagwa is often referred to by those wishing to look past his proximity to Mugabe and his complicity in the Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s, is not an angel. But he is the best chance Zimbabwe has to move forward.
He has since adopted a presidential deportment, speaking and acting like a leader aware of his responsibilities.
After six people lay dead from the post-poll violence Mnangagwa let his countrymen, Africa and the world know he considered this one death too many. Gone are his gung-ho former enforcer ways of trampling over dead bodies - as claimed by those who suffered in the Gukurahundi. He is very conciliatory in speech now, exactly as a president should be. He has moved with requisite speed to assure his biggest rival in Monday’s poll, Nelson Chamisa, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, that the latter has a role to play in Zimbabwe.
At 40, it is almost the folly of youthful exuberance that would drive Chamisa not to reach out to this hand of peace extended to him by Mnangagwa.
It is regrettable that Chamisa is threatening fire and brimstone because he considers Mnangagwa’s victory as a coup against the will of the people.
In his newfound vocabulary, President Mnangagwa was equally quick to advise the aggrieved that they were free to approach the courts if they wished to challenge the election result.
International observers like John Mahama Dramani are unanimous that the elections were free, fair and credible.
The work that now ensues is to roll up the sleeves to rebuild Zimbabwe, and it requires all hands on deck - Chamisa included. The challenge even extends to all Zimbabweans in the Diaspora - there are three million of them in South Africa - to return home to help make Zimbabwe the breadbasket of Africa again.
Chamisa’s sore loser tendencies are not the hallmarks of birthing a new country. There is more at stake in his motherland than his youthly ego.