Harare, Nov 24: Former Vice President Emmerson Mngagwa, whose recent ousting prompted a military takeover in Zimbabwe, was sworn in as President on Friday, triggering an uncertain phase in the country’s history following the end of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year reign.
The swearing-in ceremony of Mngagwa, a high-profile member of the ruling ZANU-PF party, took place at the capital’s tiol Sports Stadium and was witnessed by tens of thousands of jubilant Zimbabweans. Dignitaries, including leaders from various African countries, filed in to cheers.
Widely known as “the Crocodile”, Mngagwa was a key Mugabe confidant for decades until they fell out due to the presidential ambitions of former first lady Grace Mugabe.
“I, Emmerson Dambudzo Mngagwa, swear that as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe I will be faithful to Zimbabwe and obey, uphold and defend the Constitution and all of the laws of Zimbabwe,” the 75-year-old leader said while greeting the crowd with a raised fist.
“I will protect and promote the rights of the people of Zimbabwe and discharge my duties with all my strength, the best of my knowledge and ability,” he added.
Mngagwa was accompanied by his wife Auxilia and gave her a kiss after the green presidential sash was placed around his neck making him the second leader of Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. He received a 21-gun salute, firing of a cannon and a military aircraft fly past in a colourful ceremony.
Opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru — who both had their sights on the presidency at various times — were at the ceremony. Mugabe did not attend Mngagwa’s iuguration and the official explation for his absence was that the 93-year-old needed to rest.
Mngagwa, who served for half a century as his predecessor’s right-hand man, also paid tribute to Mugabe as his “father” and “mentor”.
Despite admitting he played a role in Mugabe’s ouster, Mngagwa used his first official address to the tion to show respect to him, whom he said he still persolly considered his leader.
“He led us in our struggle for tiol independence. He assumed responsibility for leadership at a formative and very challenging time,” Mngagwa said, adding later that the tion should “let bygones be bygones”. (IANS)