Thursday 22 February 2018

Mnangagwa vows a 'new start' in appeal for unity to move on from Mugabe era

Emmerson Mnangagwa and his wife Auxillia arrive at the Zimbabwe presidential inauguration ceremony in the capital Harare. Photo: AP
Emmerson Mnangagwa and his wife Auxillia arrive at the Zimbabwe presidential inauguration ceremony in the capital Harare. Photo: AP

Roland Oliphant and Peta Thornycroft in Harare

Emmerson Mnangagwa appealed for national unity and promised compensation for dispossessed white farmers as he sought to draw a line under the Robert Mugabe era in his inaugural speech as president of Zimbabwe.

Mr Mnangagwa was sworn in as the second president of Zimbabwe with a 21-gun salute, marching troops, and dancing children 10 days after the military coup that led to the resignation of Mr Mugabe, who had ruled for 37 years, earlier this week.

Mr Mnangagwa is sworn in. Photo: AP
Mr Mnangagwa is sworn in. Photo: AP

In an address to 60,000 people in Harare's national stadium, he praised Mr Mugabe as his mentor and a "founding father" of the nation, but in a tacit rebuke called on the international community to lift sanctions in recognition of the country's "new start".

"For me personally he is a mentor, father, comrade in arms, and my leader," Mr Mnangagwa said of the outgoing president. "While we cannot change the past, there is a lot we can do in the present and the future to give our nation a different positive direction."

Watched by 60,000 spectators, Mr Mnangagwa swore to uphold the constitution and defend the country's 16 million citizens. It was the first time since the independence ceremony of April 18 1980, that a crowd of all parties, races, and creeds gathered to hear the speech of the leader of Zimbabwe.

Mr Mnangagwa promised to fix Zimbabwe's "poisoned" political environment and its shattered economy.

He promised "free and fair" elections as scheduled next year.

Turning to the economy, he said he would invite foreign direct investment in an effort to stimulate "job, job, job creation", and called for the EU and United States to drop sanctions against top military and Zanu-PF figures.

Irish Independent

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