Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed sweeping change as he was sworn as Zimbabwe’s president Friday, November 24, 2017 seeking to reassure foreign investors and pledging to fight poverty and corruption after Robert Mugabe’s shock resignation.
In his inaugural address, the new president set out a programme of dramatic change that promised a stark reversal of many of Mugabe’s signature policies.
He pledged that his government would compensate white farmers whose land was seized by Mugabe, would protect international investments in the country and re-engage with foreign powers.
Elections scheduled for 2018 would continue as planned, he said.
“I humbly appeal to all of us that we let bygones be bygones,” he said at the ceremony in the 60,000-seat national stadium, which was packed to capacity.
“We must work together — you, me, all of us who make this nation.”
After reciting the oath of office, he was given a ceremonial chain and sash of office flanked by his wife Auxilia, receiving salutes and pledges of allegiance from the country’s military and security chiefs.
Military aircraft and helicopters then staged a fly-past.
‘Mugabe’s legacy of ruin’
“We are excited and expecting a lot from Mnangagwa. We have been under a dictatorship for a very long time,” said 23-year-old Sharon Mauyakufa.
The 93-year-old former president, who ruled Zimbabwe with an iron rod for 37 years, was ousted after the military intervened over his sacking of Mnangagwa as vice president on November 6.
Two days later, Mnangagwa fled the country, only returning on Wednesday when he said Zimbabwe was entering an era of “full democracy”.
But critics have warned Mnangaga — whose ruthlessness won him the nickname “The Crocodile” and who has been accused of overseeing violence and ethnic massacres — could prove just as authoritarian as his mentor.
Friday’s 21-gun salute marked Mnangagwa’s transformation from a sacked enemy of the state to president of a nation of 16 million people.
“We thank you, our soldier,” read one banner at the stadium.
“The people have spoken,” said another.
“Mnangagwa came at the right time when the economy was showing signs of going back to 2008 when shops ran out of goods and people were starving,” said Nozithelo Mhlanga, a 27-year-old accountant.
“Mugabe has left no legacy at all except that of ruin, poverty and corruption.”
Mugabe in frail health
Mugabe, who is in increasingly frail health, had been positioning his wife Grace as his successor but the army chiefs stepped in to halt the plan.
Police commissioner Augustine Chihuri, who is seen as a leading supporter of the faction that backed Grace, was loudly booed at the swearing in. Mugabe did not attend.
In talks with Mugabe on Thursday, Mnangagwa “assured him and his family maximum security and welfare” for their future as private citizens, the website of the state-run Herald daily said.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for Democratic Change received rapturous applause as he arrived at the packed stadium.
Read full report at Vanguard.