24 November 2017

Zimbabwe: Emmerson Mnangagwa Sworn in as President

Former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been inaugurated as Zimbabwe’s new leader, taking over from his toppled predecessor Robert Mugabe. A large crowd gathered to witness an historic transition of power.

Tens of thousands of people gathered at Zimbabwe's National Sports Stadium, to see former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa's inauguration on Friday.

Mnangagwa, who was sacked from his role as Mugabe's deputy earlier this month, is only the second president in Zimbabwe's 37-year existence as an independent nation.

Mugabe, who ruled for the entire period since independence from white-minority rule in 1980, was not due to attend.

Zimbabwe's Herald newspaper on Friday said that Mnangagwa's former boss need not be present at the inauguration "given the hectic events of the past week-and-a-half."

The relationship between President Robert Mugabe's wife, Grace Mugabe (R), and his former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L), has reportedly turned rough, according to Reuters. Early this month, Mnangagwa was dismissed from his position after being accused of "plotting a coup against the government."

An important 'no show'

Mugabe, who had been the world's oldest head of state, resigned on Tuesday after the ruling ZANU-PF party sacked him as its leader and threatened to begin impeachment proceedings.

South African President Jacob Zuma, who would have represented southern Africa's dominant regional player, was not due to attend because he was hosting a visit by Angola's new head of state.

Mnangagwa served as a former justice and defense minister, and was in important Mugabe confidant for decades before the pair fell out because of the presidential ambitions of Mugabe's wife, Grace. Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa from his vice presidential role in early November. Mnangagwa then fled to South Africa.

'Constant contact' with military

In his first speech since returning, Mnangagwa said he had fled the country because of threats to his life, as well as an attempted food poisoning in August. Mnangagwa said he was in constant contact with military leaders during his time in exile.

He also pledged "jobs, jobs" for Zimbabweans, who have seen their country's economy collapse during Mugabe's period in office.

Despite an overall message of inclusion while speaking in English, it was noted that Mnangagwa had switched to the local Shona language to condemn opponents of the party as being like "barking dogs."

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