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[WATCH] Zimbabwe: Emmerson Mnangagwa sworn in as new president

The country's second leader since their independence in 1980, Mnangagwa has been sworn in as president, following the resignation of Robert Mugabe

24 November 2017, 12:43pm
Emmerson Mnangagwa sworn in as new president of Zimbabwe (Photo: the Indian Express)
Emmerson Mnangagwa sworn in as new president of Zimbabwe (Photo: the Indian Express)
 

Emmerson Mnangagwa has been sworn in as the new president of Zimbabwe, making him the country’s second leader since independence from white minority rule in 1980.

Mnangagwa took oath of office in front of tens of thousands of Zimbabweans, who had gathered at a stadium in Harare, after greeting the crowd with a raised fist.

People sang and danced in the stands and raised banners reading “No to retribution” and “Dawn of a new era”, even as human rights activists began to report worrying details of attacks on close allies of the former first lady, Grace Mugabe and theur families.

Mnangagwa himself warned against “vengeful retribution.”

Elsewhere in the capital, lines formed outside banks, a common sight in Zimbabwe, which is struggling with cash shortages and severe economic problems, which the new president will have to address.

“Right now, nothing has really changed for me. I still cannot get my money from the bank,” said Amon Mutora, who had been waiting in line since 6am.

Mnangagwa is a 75-year-old stalwart of the ruling Zanu-PF party, nicknamed the “crocodile”, a liberation war nickname. He was sacked as vice president by Mugabe two weeks ago, triggering a political crisis that culminated in Mugabe’s resignation on Tuesday.

He will serve until the end of the presidential term next year but an election date has not yet been set.

Mnangagwa had been a key Mugabe confidant for decades, until they fell out regarding the presidential ambitions of Grace Mugabe.

Critics often questioned his role in the Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland in 1983, when an estimated 20,000 were killed in a crackdown on Mugabe opponents by the North Korean trained Fifth Brigade.

Mnangagwa has denied any part in this.

Despite his long association with the government, which has presided over Mugabe’s decline, including human rights abuses and economic collapse, Mnangagwa has promised democracy and called on other countries for aid.

Mugabe was the world’s oldest head of state when he quit on Tuesday amid impeachment proceedings. In the end, he became isolated and showed 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.

Mugabe did not attend Friday’s swearing-in, but ruling party officials have said he will remain in Zimbabwe. Officials have promised he is safe and that his legacy as a war hero will stand after his fight for an independent Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s state-run Herald newspaper reported that Mnangagwa had assured Mugabe and his family of their “maximum security”. The report said the two men agreed Mugabe would not attend on Friday because he “needed time to rest”.

As the inauguration crowds passed by, Sharon Samuriwo sat watching from a ledge. She said she hoped Mnangagwa would learn from the errors of his predecessor, but acknowledged that the path ahead for Zimbabwe was unknown.