Exuberant Zimbabweans have greeted the swearing-in of Emmerson Mnangagwa as the country’s second leader since independence from white minority rule in 1980.
The new president says Zimbabwe “should never remain hostages of our past” and paid tribute to Robert Mugabe to the tepid applause of tens of thousands who filled the stadium for the ceremony.
Mnangagwa said he was “deeply humbled” to take power after an extraordinary series of events that began with Mugabe firing him early this month as vice president.
Mnangagwa today greeted the crowd with a raised fist, and he promised to devote himself to the well-being of the people.
Mnangagwa, a former justice and defence minister, was a key Mugabe confidant for decades until they fell out because of the presidential ambitions of Mugabe’s wife, Grace. Despite his long association with the government that has presided over Zimbabwe’s decline, including economic collapse and human rights abuses, Mnangagwa has promised democracy and reached out to other countries for help.
Mugabe, 93, was the world’s oldest head of state when he quit Tuesday amid impeachment proceedings. In the end, he was isolated and showing few of the political skills that kept him in power for 37 years and made him a prominent but polarising figure on the world stage.