Go for it, Zimbabwe

The sight of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai standing in front of ZimbabweanPresident Robert Mugabe, and being sworn in as that country's prime minister, will remain an iconic image of a new era for Zimbabwe.

The sight of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai standing in front of ZimbabweanPresident Robert Mugabe, and being sworn in as that country's prime minister, will remain an iconic image of a new era for Zimbabwe.

It was an emotional scene. Not since Nelson Mandela accepted the responsibility of leading South Africa has the region felt such a collective lump in its throat.

It is not going to be easy. Detractors and cynics will remind us of what we had in any case not forgotten, which is that Mugabe has lorded it over a murderous regime and stolen the last elections.

They will point out, correctly so, that there are still scores of Zimbabweans held in jails and other unknown places whose only crime was to point out that Mugabe's despotic nature was unwelcome.

We too note all these and urge the new government to return the country to a culture of human rights. It will be a necessary first step to the rest of the populace feeling that they are part of the new epoch.

Zimbabwe faces many other challenges. Unemployment runs rampant.

Children have not returned to public schools as a result of a teachers' strike.

Cholera is threatening a genocide. There is also the small matter of hyper-inflation, the highest in the world.

And if these are to be overcome sooner rather than later, it will require that Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the newly inaugurated deputy prime minister, Arthur Mutambara, become statesmen rather than leaders of different political factions that they have been.

The international community also has a role to play.

Ultimately, the Zimbabwean people are their own redeemers. They have done it before.

They brought down an unrepresentative settler-colonial regime, lived through a transitional state of Rhodesia-Zimbabwe to the Zimbabwe that became the bread basket of Africa and a state with one of the most literate societies in Africa.

We salute them for doing it again. And wish them all the best.

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