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Emmerson Mnangagwa Is Sworn In as Zimbabwe’s 2nd President Since 1980

He emphasized rebuilding the country’s economy by, in part, re-engaging with Western nations that cut off most ties with Zimbabwe after the seizure of white-owned farms starting in 2000. Mr. Mnangagwa said that compensation would be offered to those who had lost their properties, signaling his commitment to a process that had begun fitfully in recent years.

The tens of thousands present in the stadium, many of them hard-core political supporters, wildly cheered Mr. Mnangagwa and hailed him as a “hero” and “liberator.” But even as he promised a new era of democracy, the incoming president, who was long known as Mr. Mugabe’s ruthless enforcer, faced a far more skeptical nation.

Even before the euphoria over the end of the Mugabe era began to subside, many opposition politicians, rights activists, ordinary citizens and even some party members were expressing concerns about entrusting a new Zimbabwe to a leader so closely tied to the old.

“This is a happy day,” said Virginia Kamoto, 34, a ZANU-PF member who was bused in with other supporters from the Masvingo area in southern Zimbabwe. “I was personally tired of Mugabe, who had stayed for far too long in power,” she added. “I hope President Mnangagwa will not overstay in power. I hope he will not repress the people or tolerate corruption so that our country will be counted among the great nations of the world.”

For some, the genuine and deep excitement over seeing Mr. Mugabe go was already fading before the reality that Mr. Mnangagwa and the rest of the old guard were still firmly in place.

After learning of Mr. Mugabe’s resignation on Tuesday, Mevion Gambiza, 28, said he had celebrated with others outside the hotel where lawmakers had gathered to start impeaching the former president. Mr. Gambiza then rode on the roof of a taxi as its driver honked through the streets of Harare. Mr. Gambiza, a sociology graduate from the University of Zimbabwe, said he came to the new president’s inauguration because of its historical significance.

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“Nothing will change; poverty and suffering will continue,” he said. “It’s just another ZANU-PF faction that has outcompeted its rival and now Mnangagwa’s bootlickers will have their full turn to loot from the state coffers.”

But Emerson Zinyera, 54, a retired police officer who described himself as a strong backer of the new president, said: “Today is true independence day. The one that was there was false. Today is independence that everyone, every Zimbabwean can enjoy, not independence enjoyed by two people, Mugabe and his wife, Grace.”

Mr. Mnangagwa’s exact role in the military intervention that led to Mr. Mugabe’s downfall is not yet known. But on Wednesday, just hours after returning to Zimbabwe from South Africa, Mr. Mnangagwa thanked the generals who had backed him, saying he had been “in constant contact with the service chiefs throughout” the recent events.

The victory of Mr. Mnangagwa and the military — over a ZANU-PF faction led by Mr. Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife, Grace, and younger politicians with no experience in the war of liberation — underscored the old guard’s enduring grip on power, not only in Zimbabwe but also in nations like Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. In all those countries, former liberation movements have held uninterrupted power over decades through a combination of patronage and coercion and, in some cases, outright military force.

In his 37-minute speech, Mr. Mnangagwa reached out to rivals, though only in general terms. Main opposition rivals, including Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change and Joice Mujuru of the National People’s Party, attended the swearing-in ceremony.

Mr. Mnangagwa praised the man he had helped topple by saying “history will grant him his proper place and accord him his deserved stature as one of the founding fathers and leaders of our nation.”

Source: NYT > World

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