By Darlington Gatsi
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa says he and other African Heads of States have challenged newly-elected Kenyan President William Ruto to put aside the disputed election outcome and embrace perennial losing opposition candidate, Raila Odinga.
William Ruto was elected the fifth President of the East African country in last month’s election and his inauguration, attended by Mnangagwa, was held Tuesday.
Opposition leader Odinga challenged the election at the country’s Supreme Court citing irregularities in the plebiscite.
A similar legal challenge befell Zimbabwe following contested 2018 election results, in which Mnangagwa narrowly won against his nemesis, Nelson Chamisa now leader of Citizens’ Coalition for Change.
The disputed election further polarised a country that had come together in support of the ouster of then President Robert Mugabe in 2018.
Desperate to ease political tensions, Mnangagwa established the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD), which main opposition leader Chamisa snubbed.
“We encouraged Ruto to embrace everybody, both the leadership and supporters. He (Ruto) said he has nothing against Raila Odinga, he is going to do his best to work with him and see what role he can also play,” said President Mnangagwa at Robert Mugabe International Airport Wednesday upon arrival from Kenya.
On home soil, political tensions are simmering with main opposition CCC accusing the ruling party of fueling violence.
CCC claims there is a plot to assassinate its leader, Chamisa, after a suspected bomb blast rocked a political rally held Sunday in Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West province.
Opposition legislators Job Sikhala, Godfrey Sithole and trade unionists have been arraigned before the courts on spurious charges, which commentators opine were designed to silence dissent and instill fear among citizens.
Political analysts have predicted violence, before, during and after the must-win 2023 elections by both arch-rivals, Mnangagwa and Chamisa.
Civic Society Organisations (CSOs) have also challenged Mnangagwa to call out against violence that has reared its ugly head at scheduled opposition rallies.
Since the advent of opposition politics, Zimbabwe has witnessed violent and disputed elections, which are detrimental to the promotion of democracy.
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa has hailed Kenya for a peaceful transition of power saying it was a sign of democracy and political maturity.
“There was a smooth handover of power and l am also happy that the new President Ruto recognised his predecessor and assured him that he will be given due respect and the protocols deserving a former Head of State,” said Mnangagwa.