HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa will be sworn in as president tomorrow, marking a new era for a country dominated by Robert Mugabe whose downfall this week ended nearly four decades in power.
The ruling ZANU-PF party has nominated Mr Mnangagwa to fill the vacancy left by Mr Mugabe on Tuesday and he will be sworn in tomorrow, said Jacob Mudenda, the speaker of parliament.
Mr Mugabe sacked Mr Mnangagwa as vice president two weeks ago to smooth a path to the succession for his wife Grace. Mr Mnangagwa fled for his own safety and the military seized control.
Mr Mugabe held on for a week with ZANU-PF and others urging him to resign. He stepped down finally on Tuesday moments after parliament began an impeachment process. People danced in the streets and some brandished posters of Mr Mnangagwa and army chief Gen Constantino Chiwenga, who led the takeover.
Mr Mnangagwa issued a statement from hiding on Tuesday calling on Zimbabweans to unite to rebuild the country. He was to land in Harare last night. Zimbabwe’s next leader faces the task of restoring the country’s fortunes. Alleged human rights abuses and flawed elections prompted many Western countries to impose sanctions in the early-2000s that hurt the economy.
Chinese investment softened the blow but the population of 16 million remains mainly poor and faces currency shortages and high unemployment. Staging clean elections next year will be key to winning fresh investment.
Mr Mnangagwa is almost certain to win that election but it would be a victory for the country’s “old elites” with the aid of China, said Guenther Nooke, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal representative for Africa.
“He will manage to get elected using fear or many tricks, and then we’ll have a succession from one tyrant to the next,” Mr Nooke told broadcaster SWR2.
Many Zimbabweans also remain hostile to Mr Mnangagwa because of his human rights record.