Among the reasons for optimism, Todd mentions competent people having been appointed to ministerial posts. She points to the positive work done in tackling widespread threatened strikes by writer and international development consultant, Sekai Nzenza, now Zimbabwe’s Minister of Public Service.
She praises Minister of Sports and Culture Kirsty Coventry for promoting unity at last week’s funeral of popular musician Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi.
She credits Mnangagwa for declaring Tuku a national hero, an honour previously confined to members of the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Despite flaws and controversy, she calls last July’s national elections, “the best we’ve had so far.”
The ouster of the now 94-year-old Mugabe was celebrated by Zimbabweans hopeful for a better life after two decades of privation and economic decline.
Desperation prompted millions – perhaps a fifth of the population – to flee to South Africa. Unemployment exceeds 60% and pay for the army and civil servants absorbs 90% government revenue.
For months following the coup there was near euphoria as police were no longer taking bribes, a compliant domestic media was emboldened, and dissent was openly tolerated.
But now those expectations have been dashed, vanquished by state repression that included even a four-day suspension of internet access.
Some western governments and lenders would like to support the post-Mugabe government but are constrained from doing so by US sanctions imposed to punish Mugabe’s violations of human rights.
There is no mood in congress to repeal the sanctions. A US veto prevents the International Monetary Fund and World Bank from extending financial aid to Zimbabwe and European lenders – unlike China and Russia – typically insist on IMF approval before granting loans.
Similarly, multi-national companies are reluctant to invest without an IMF seal of approval.
Respected economist and former business professor Tony Hawkins shares none of Judith Todd’s optimism.
He argues that political change and a unity government are probably required before the country can move ahead. It would be a mistake, says Hawkins, for the West to support a corrupt, unreliable Zimbabwean government.
Judith Todd readily concedes the shortcomings of Mnangagwa. But for her the reality that Mugabe’s tyrannical rule is over is paramount.
“Every morning,” she declares with a smile, “I’m so happy and grateful to wake up in Zimbabwe.”
By Barry D. Wood for BizNews