Emmerson Mnangagwa, the man whose removal as vice president by Robert Mugabe led to the veteran leader’s ouster, has been sworn in as Zimbabwe’s new president on Friday in a ceremony at a packed stadium in the country’s capital, Harare.
He was led in the oath of office by Chief Justice Luke Malaba, saying he would “be faithful to Zimbabwe”, “protect and promote the rights and people of Zimbabwe” and discharge his duties to the best of his abilities.
“I Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa swear that as the president of the republic of Zimbabwe I will be faithful to Zimbabwe and obey, uphold and defend the constitution and all other laws of Zimbabwe,” he said as he took the oath of office before the chief justice, watched by a jubilant crowd of tens of thousands of people.
People sang and danced in the stands and raised banners reading “Dawn of a new era” and “No to retribution”, even as human rights activists started to report worrying details of attacks on close allies of the former first lady, Grace Mugabe, and their families.
Mnangagwa himself has warned against “vengeful retribution”.
He becomes the country’s second leader since independence from white minority rule in 1980.
Although Mr Mnangagwa has unseated Zimbabwe’s long-time ruler, he is still associated by many with some of the worst atrocities committed under the ruling Zanu-PF party since the country gained independence in 1980.
He was the country’s spymaster during the 1980s civil conflict, in which thousands of civilians were killed. But he has denied any role in the massacres, blaming the army.