Emmerson Mnangagwa was on Friday sworn in as Zimbabwe’s third president by Chief Justice Luke Malaba to loud cheers at a packed National Sports Stadium, marking the end of Robert Mugabe’s nearly four decades rule and a new chapter for the southern African country.
Less than three weeks after he fled the country to escape ‘threats’ on his life, Mnangagwa stood on the podium to pledge uphold the constitution of Zimbabwe and to protect the rights of its 16 million citizens.
“I will devote myself to the wellbeing of Zimbabwe and its people,” he pledged and to ‘oppose whatever that will harm Zimbabwe.”
Mnangagwa, for over 40 years one of Mugabe’s closest and trusted lieutenants, declared upon his return to the country that Zimbabwe was entering a new era of democracy.
He becomes the third president of Zimbabwe after Canaan Banana and Robert Mugabe, the second executive president after Mugabe, to take office.
Mugabe, who ruled with an iron fist during his often tempestuous reign, resigned on Tuesday, three months before his 94th birthday as parliament debated a motion to impeach him, one week after the military took over control of the country.
Mnangagwa is taking over just months away from an election in which he will be the ZANU-PF candidate.
A shattered economy marked by empty banks and silent factories awaits Mnangagwa while restoring investor confidence will have to be at the top of the agenda.
The buy-in of the international community will be key and so far the noises from key allies have been positive. Mnangagwa has already spoken of receiving pledges of support’ from the international community, an abomination under Mugabe but can only be good for him.