As Zimbabwe looks ahead to the 2018 presidential elections, the country is ready for an overhaul of the existing political system and deserves a positive change, a political opposition leader said in a Facebook Live interview at the Atlantic Council on December 13.

According to Noah Manyika, the convener of the Build Zimbabwe Alliance (BZA), “I think it is time now for Zimbabwe to go in a different direction.” Speaking to the goals of his political party, Manyika said: “What we want is the best leadership for our country.” Manyika joined Munatsi Manyande, also with BZA, to discuss the opposition’s projects and aims ahead of the election. Chloë McGrath, a visiting fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, conducted the interview.

Ultimately, the party seeks change. President Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since 1987, and, according to Manyande, younger generations of Zimbabweans have not benefitted from his leadership.

Zimbabwe’s worsening economy has become a regular trigger of unrest. In July, streets in Zimbabwe’s major cities were deserted as Zimbabweans stayed away from work to protest the dire economic conditions and unpaid wages. In November, the government’s decision to introduce new bond notes sparked protests amid fears of hyperinflation. Several opposition activists have been detained or arrested.

Both Manyika and Manyande spoke out against government restrictions on constitutional rights. “There needs to be a leadership renewal in Zimbabwe from top to bottom,” Manyika said, not simply changing the presidency.

BZA functions as a platform for this leadership renewal, and seeks to harness the human capital of Zimbabweans around the world, said Manyika, describing people who aspire to play a role in Zimbabwe’s future, but require assistance gaining entry to the political arena.

According to Manyande, “we need activists… but we also need players in the political arena for us to be able to push for change.” He described how BZA facilitates the transition. Manyika said, “they don’t have to belong to BZA, as long as they are Zimbabweans who love their country and can really bring about change.” Manyande added, “at this point in time, up to 2018, anyone who is in the opposition and who’s in the activist movement are really on the same team.”

Rachel Ansley is an editorial assistant at the Atlantic Council. 

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