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Zimbabwe Needs to Move Away From Mugabe's Policies to Boost Economy - Analyst

© AP Photo / Ben CurtisEmmerson Mnangagwa, presidente de Zimbabue
Emmerson Mnangagwa, presidente de Zimbabue - Sputnik International
In Zimbabwe 23 opposition supporters have been charged with inciting electoral violence after incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa was announced as the winner. His main rival, Nelson Chamisa, said the opposition will not recognize the results and claimed the election was rigged.

Sputnik has discussed Mnangagwa's win with Dr. Dirk Kotzé, a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of South Africa.

Sputnik: What is the reason for the popularity of Zanu-PF?

Dr. Dirk Kotzé: President Mnangagwa presented himself as a new beginning after the era of President Mugabe and we're seeing some of that already since November last year when he took over as president. He introduced quite a number of changes and he also changed the political atmosphere in Zimbabwe quite substantially. Where in the past the military was very dominant and actually was the holders of political power, there was with this election much more space, political space for the opposition,  for the media in order to do their work.

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa votes in the general election at Sherwood Park Primary School in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe - Sputnik International
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So that in itself is a significant change. Also in economic terms, he started to reach out, he's trying to open up the Zimbabwean economy. While in the past it was very much a closed, isolated economy under President Mugabe, he's now reaching out to all; from China to Western Europe, and the US.

So in that sense, he also has changed his approach toward the land issue and agriculture, and he wants to reach out to the farmers who lost their farms over the past 18 years. So there are significant changes and I think that gives hope to the population of Zimbabwe to a large extent.

READ MORE: At least 4 People Killed During Protests in Zimbabwe After Elections — Reports

Sputnik: What's in store for Zimbabwe now and how likely is Mr. Mnangagwa's victory will bring transformations to the country?

Dr. Dirk Kotzé: One of his first major statements after the election emphasized the notion of renewal, something incidentally which President Ramaphosa is dealing with in South Africa also. And I think that the first and most urgent steps that must be taken are economic measures.

They are, for example, to be able to bring money in and cash into the country because at the moment there's very little cash, liquidity in the economy for it to function and people are starting alternative forms of bartering and alternative ways of conducting economic activity. So that would be the first issue, real change that the people can see and a new transformation as he calls it "a new beginning."

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At the same time, I think he has to also reach out to the different political communities, specifically the opposition, not so much in order to establish a unity government, because that appears to be one of the options, but rather to develop a culture of political competition and cooperation within parliament, as well as in the broader sectors of politics. So that sense of unification that is taking place.

For too long in Zimbabwe, they were to think that those supporting President Mugabe, supported by the security services, had agreed to live in almost political isolation and that notion, I think, very urgently needs to be changed.

READ MORE: Zimbabwean Opposition Presidential Candidate Refuses to Concede

Sputnik: What needs to be done to revitalize the Zimbabwean economy?

Dr. Dirk Kotzé: First of all, it will have to indicate that it is moving away from President Mugabe's policies; that is it is opening up the economy much more. That it is willing to look at very close relations with China but they also want to open up even to the West, which for a long time was not seen as the way to do go. And also not to rely so much on the agricultural and mining sectors because those two sectors dominate Zimbabwe's economy, but to start to diversify the economy.

Zimbabwe has one of the best infrastructures in Africa and they can do it very well in order to develop an economy that is based on manufacturing, that is based on services and they are in a very key position also with respect to South Africa. Because for South Africa to reach the depths of Africa it needs to go through Zimbabwe and that gives them a very important and very strategic position in terms of their future development.

Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Dr. Dirk Kotzé and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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