Zimbabwe’s Crocodile, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has been sworn in as president following Robert Mugabe’s historic resignation .
Mnangagwa, who was unceremoniously fired as vice president, has vowed to be a president for all Zimbabweans and promised ‘democratic’ elections when Zimbabwe goes to the polls next year.
The Crocodile, as he is fondly referred to, has also vowed to tackle corruption and reimburse white farmers whose land was seized under his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, and protect foreign investment in Zimbabwe.
“We ask those who have punished us in the past to reconsider,” Mnangagwa said, in a possible reference to years of sanctions and international condemnation over rights abuses.
Mnangagwa took his oath of office in front of tens of thousands of jubilant Zimbabweans who he greeted with a raised fist at a stadium in Harare.
He also paid tribute to veteran leader Robert Mugabe who has ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years as his “father” and “mentor” and warned against “vengeful retribution” following worrying details of attacks on close allies of the former first lady, Grace Mugabe, and their families.
“The task at hand is that of rebuilding our country,” he said near the start of his conciliatory address.
“I am required to serve our country as the president of all citizens regardless of colour, creed, religion, tribe, totem or political affiliation.”
Mugabe barred from ceremony
Despite his reconciliatory sermon, reports indicate that Mugabe was blocked from attending the inauguration.
Senior members of the ruling Zanu-PF party had wanted 93-year-old Mr Mugabe to attend the inauguration of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the man who deposed him, in an attempt to portray a natural transfer of power rather than change at the top initiated by a military coup.
However, Mr Mnangagwa and his allies, it is believed, objected to the proposal vehemently, arguing that it would confer legitimacy to the rule of Mr Mugabe, his wife Grace and their cohorts; and his attendance conceived as an embarrassment for the ‘president elect’.
But Zimbabwe’s state-run Herald newspaper reported that Mnangagwa had assured Mugabe and his family of their “maximum security” and that the two agreed the former president would not attend the ceremony as he needed time to rest.
Mnangagwa, a key Mugabe confidant for decades until they fell out because of the presidential ambitions of Grace Mugabe, will serve until the end of the presidential term next year. However, an election date is yet to be set.