Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as Zimbabwe's new president on Friday, bringing the final curtain down on the 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa, 75, took the oath of office at the national sports stadium on the outskirts of Harare before thousands of supporters, dignitaries and foreign diplomats.
He succeeds the 93-year-old Mugabe, who resigned on Tuesday under immense pressure from the military, the ruling party and the people amid fears his wife was trying to take power.
Mnangagwa was Mugabe's longtime ally before his firing earlier this month. He will serve until the end of the presidential term next year.
Addressing the stadium crowd, the new president vowed "democratic" elections would be held next year, urging Zimbabwe to move beyond the poisoned politics of the recent past.
"We should never remain hostages of our past," he said, paying tribute to his predecessor Mugabe, whom he referred to as the “father of the nation”.
Mnangagwa vowed to fix Zimbabwe's devastated economy and battle the rampant corruption associated with his predecessor's rule.
"Acts of corruption must stop forthwith. Where these occur, swift justice must be served," he warned, promising to "create jobs for our youth and reduce poverty for all".
He also promised to reimburse the farmers whose land was seized under Mugabe, though cautioning that those actions cannot be reversed.
Even though most Zimbabweans celebrated the fall of Mugabe, who presided over the descent into penury and despotism of one of Africa's brightest prospects, some are worried about the future under the man known as “The Crocodile”.
In particular, they question his role in the so-called Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland in 1983, when an estimated 20,000 people were killed in a crackdown on Mugabe opponents by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade.
Mnangagwa has denied any part in the atrocities and since his return to Zimbabwe after two weeks in hiding has been preaching democracy, tolerance and respect for the rule of law.
'A new era or just another Zanu-PF government?'
However, the army's rough treatment of Mugabe loyalists – former finance minister Ignatius Chombo was hospitalised because of beatings sustained in military custody, his lawyer said – has not allayed concerns about Mnangagwa's real views of democracy.
"It was a very brutal and draconian way of dealing with opponents," Chombo's lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku, told Reuters.
Mugabe, the world's oldest serving head of state, resigned on Tuesday as parliament started to impeach him, a week to the day after the army stepped in to seize power.
Mnangagwa assured Mugabe he and his family would be safe in Zimbabwe when the two men spoke for the first time since Mnangagwa returned home this week, the state-owned The Herald newspaper reported on Friday.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
Date created : 2017-11-24