Some think that Zanu-PF would stay in power after Mugabe goes, even without a popular mandate, because an alternative government will be unacceptable to the security establishment.
But a new government must be recognised within and outside Zimbabwe. Merely changing the guard would almost certainly not bring about economic recovery. The diaspora would not be reversed and Western aid would not be forthcoming.
Open-minded political negotiations will need to be encouraged and legitimate institutions of government must be re-established.
This might require a government of national unity or that interim leadership is handed to a non-partisan Zimbabwean acceptable to all the main players.
Zimbabwe's reconstruction will require security and the rule of law to be re-established.
Stabilising the rural areas will also require that the paramilitary "war veterans" are contained.
The basic task is to tame the state's power, to direct its activities back towards ends perceived as legitimate and beneficial by most of the people it serves, and to regularise power under the rule of law.
Traditional constraints on abuse of power come from the division of powers between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. These safeguards need to be strengthened.
All levels of government will need to be reinforced with competent administrators and purged of the regime's incompetent cronies. But this should not undermine the state's ability to provide social services.
Reducing inflation will involve painful adjustments for everyone, especially the poor, because a stabilisation plan will need to include a substantial reduction in the fiscal deficit. But the experience of hyper-inflation should ensure strong support for economic policies that limit inflation.
The Zimbabwean economy needs to recover its competitive edge after the serious setbacks of recent years.
A recovery plan will have to incorporate a strong supply-side focus on rebuilding the productive capacity of the economy.
Only some of Zimbabwe's infrastructure might still be in reasonable shape.
Water, power, roads and other infrastructure will need extensive rehabilitation and might require an investment of up to R30billion.
The agricultural sector must receive high priority, including attracting back farming skills, providing adequate security of tenure and agricultural extension services, and ensuring that the exchange rate is appropriately managed.
There remains the potential for a strong revival in mining and manufacturing.
Zimbabwe once possessed one of the best-educated workforces on the continent, but many of these skills have been lost.
It is unclear how many of these individuals could be enticed back to the country.
The cost of recovery could exceed R100billion over five to 10 years.
l An edited version of an address by the the University of Pretoria's Raymond Parsons.
The full address can be found at www.sowetan.co.za