Emmerson Mnangagwa was officially sworn in as president of Zimbabwe on Sunday after winning a bitterly contested election that marked the country’s first vote since strongman Robert Mugabe was ousted from power.
Mnangagwa, whose victory in the July 30 polls was challenged by the main opposition, pledged to “protect and promote the rights of Zimbabweans” in an inauguration ceremony attended by thousands of supporters at a stadium in Harare.
“I Emerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa swear that as president of the republic of Zimbabwe I will be faithful to Zimbabwe (and) will obey, uphold and defend the constitution of Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said in an oath greeted by thunderous applause from a crowd that also included several African heads of state.
His supporters thronged the stadium on Sunday with many wearing caps and T-shirts emblazoned with Mnangagwa’s image with banners christened “Celebrating a new Zimbabwe” and “Unity takes us forward, peace keeps us going”.
All optimistic of the wind of change coming to Zimbabwe “We were stressed with what was happening with the court procedures (hearing opposition appeals of vote fraud) but we are happy now because everything has been finalized and we want people to unite and work together,” supporter Malvern Makoni said at the event.
“Our country is now going to develop with President Mnangagwa now in charge. Mnangagwa is the right man to lead Zimbabwe to prosperity,” 41-year-old Blessing Muvirimi said. “We want Zimbabweans to work together.”
Meanwhile opposition leader who heads the Movement for Democratic Change(MDC) has since rejected the court ruling that upheld Mnangagwa’s victory which he won the election with 50.8 percent of the vote — just enough to meet the 50 per cent threshold needed to avoid a run-off against the main opposition led by Nelson Chamisa, who scored 44.3 percent.
International observers said the polls were largely free of the violence which characterized previous votes in the nation.
Since independence from Britain in 1980, Zimbabwe has known only two presidents — Mugabe, who ruled with an iron fist for 37 years, and his erstwhile right-hand man Mnangagwa.
Nicknamed “The Crocodile”, Mnangagwa was appointed after Mugabe was forced out by the military in November last year.