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Emmerson Mnangagwa Sworn In As Zimbabwe’s 3rd President Since Independence

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Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose removal as vice president by Robert Mugabe led to the veteran leader’s ouster, has been sworn in as Zimbabwe’s third president after Canaan Banana and Robert Mugabe, Friday November 24 2017.

Mnangagwa, the country’s former vice president, swore an oath of office to serve as interim president until a leader is elected at the polls next year. He is expected to contest the election as well.

Emmerson Mnangagwa swearing in

“I Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa swear that as the president of the republic of Zimbabwe I will be faithful to Zimbabwe and obey, uphold and defend the constitution and all other laws of Zimbabwe,” he said as he took the oath of office before the chief justice, watched by a jubilant crowd of tens of thousands of people.

Mr Mnangagwa, until recently one of Mr Mugabe’s closest allies, took the oath of office at the national sports stadium on the outskirts of Harare before thousands of supporters, dignitaries and foreign diplomats.

Mr Mugabe, who ruled the southern African country for 37 autocratic years, was ousted from office when the military intervened after he had sacked Mr Mnangagwa as vice president.

Mr Mugabe, 93 and in increasingly frail health, had been positioning his wife Grace as his successor, but the army chiefs acted to halt the plan and usher in Mr Mnangagwa.

“Come and be an eyewitness of history being made, the historic ushering in (of) a new era and better country,” said a statement from the ruling ZANU-PF party calling on people to attend the inauguration.

Robert Mugabe was absent in the swearing in ceremony. The official reason given was that at 93, the former president needed to rest.

But the fact he is not attending is a stark reminder that this is no ordinary transition, the BBC’s Andrew Harding reports, and that despite his official resignation he was forced out by the military.

On Thursday, several reports suggested Mr Mugabe had been granted immunity from prosecution.

Local media are reporting that Mr Mnangagwa has offered the Mugabe family “maximum security and welfare”.

The former president “expressed his good wishes and support for the incoming president,” the Herald newspaper reports.

Buses were arranged to transport supporters to the 60,000-capacity stadium early on Friday.

Mr Mnangagwa, 75, said this week that Zimbabweans were witnessing “a new and unfolding full democracy”, though critics say he is a ZANU-PF hardliner who gained power in a de facto military coup.

He is known as “The Crocodile” for his ruthlessness and is accused of overseeing ethnic massacres by the army in the 1980s and the 2008 election violence when Mr Mugabe was at risk of losing the vote.

The people have spoken

Ahead of the inauguration, the army warned that criminals had been impersonating soldiers since the crisis to extort money from the public and called on Zimbabweans to obey the law.

Britain, the former colonial power, said it was sending Africa Minister Rory Stewart to the ceremony.

Regional heavyweight South Africa said President Jacob Zuma would not be present as he was hosting a visit by Angola’s new head of state.

Mr Zuma praised Mr Mugabe, noting “his contribution to the liberation of the Southern African region and the decolonisation of the continent”.

Mr Mugabe had ruled since Zimbabwean independence in 1980, exercising almost total authority to crush any sign of dissent.

The majority of Zimbabweans have only known life under Mr Mugabe – the world’s oldest head of state – during a reign defined by brutality, rigged elections and international isolation.

His iron grip on power ended on Tuesday when his resignation letter was delivered to parliament, where MPs had convened to impeach him.

Mr Mugabe was last seen in public on Friday and gave a defiant televised address on Sunday.

Neither he nor his wife Grace has been seen since, though they are expected to be given protection by the government.

The main opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change, said it was “cautiously optimistic” that Mr Mnangagwa would not be as “evil, corrupt, decadent” as Mugabe.

In the week before Mugabe resigned, military vehicles rolled down Harare’s streets, army generals made a TV address in the early hours and tens of thousands of Zimbabweans demonstrated against the veteran leader.

Zimbabwe’s once-promising economy collapsed under Mr Mugabe’s rule, and many hope Mr Mnangagwa will push through reforms to bring in investment.

Unemployment is over 90 percent, and in his first speech after being announced as the next president he promised “jobs, jobs, jobs!”

A Methodist minister, Canaan Banana, became the first President, serving until 1987 in a mostly ceremonial role. The real power was vested in the Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe.
By Lucas Muma
Managing Editor – News

(with field reports)

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