Zimbabwe to Swear in New President 11/22 06:14
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Zimbabwe's recently fired vice president was set to
return on Wednesday to be sworn in as the country's new leader, after Robert
Mugabe announced his stunning resignation during impeachment proceedings
The state-run broadcaster reported that Emmerson Mnangagwa would arrive at
Manyame Air Base in the capital, Harare, at 6 p.m., and the Parliament speaker
said he would be sworn in Friday after the ruling party notified him of its
nomination of Mnangagwa to replace Mugabe until the end of the term next year.
Singing and cheering, several hundred people have gathered outside the air
force base in anticipation of Mnangagwa's arrival.
Some carried printed signs with images of Mnangagwa, suggesting a
significant level of organization behind the jubilant turnout. Signs read
"Welcome back, our hero" and "True to your word, you're back. Welcome."
A man in the crowd, Godwin Nyarugwa, said he was "very ecstatic" and that
"we need change in this country, change in everything."
Zimbabwe has been through "crisis after crisis" and Mnangagwa seems best
suited to lead the country forward, said Nyarugwa, who has several university
degrees but no job.
"We have to try him and see," he said. "If he doesn't come up with
something, we need to change him as well."
The air force base where demonstrators are congregating is adjacent to
Harare's international airport.
Zimbabweans are still reeling from Mugabe's resignation Tuesday. They
cheered and danced in the streets of Harare late into the night, thrilled to be
rid of a leader whose early promise after the end of white minority rule in
1980 was overtaken by economic collapse, government dysfunction and human
Now the focus turns to Mnangagwa, Mugabe's longtime deputy who was pushed
aside earlier this month as unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe positioned
herself to replace him and succeed her husband. Mnangagwa fled the country,
claiming threats against his life.
That led the military to step in a week ago, opening the door for the ruling
party and the people to publicly turn against the president.
It was not clear what the 93-year-old Robert Mugabe and his wife would do
next. Mugabe, who was the world's oldest head of state, said in his resignation
letter that legal procedures should be followed to install a new president "no
later than tomorrow."
The privately run Newsday newspaper reported that Mnangagwa would be met on
arrival in Harare by army commander Constantino Chiwenga and ruling party
officials and then was expected "to meet Mugabe for a briefing."
Zimbabweans woke up to the first day in 37 years without Mugabe in power.
With some nursing hangovers, they looked over newspaper headlines such as
"Adios Bob and Ta-ta President."
"I think this change of government is like a new breath of fresh air right
across the country," said Patrick Musira on the streets of the capital.
"Everyone was engulfed with excitement and they are looking for a better
future, a brighter future with work."
Zimbabwe's new leaders are faced with a once-prosperous nation whose economy
has collapsed, sending well-educated but frustrated young people into desperate
work as street vendors. Many have left the country altogether.
Mnangagwa is a former justice and defense minister who served for decades as
Mugabe's enforcer, a role that earned him the nickname "Crocodile." Many
opposition supporters believe he was instrumental in the army killings of
thousands of people when Mugabe moved against a political rival in the 1980s.
So far in the current political turmoil Mnangagwa has used inclusive
language, saying in a statement hours before Mugabe's resignation that all
Zimbabweans should work together to advance their nation.
"Never should the nation be held at ransom by one person ever again, whose
desire is to die in office at whatever cost to the nation," Mnangagwa said.
In a new commentary, the state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper stressed the
importance of presidential term limits, saying Zimbabweans will "never again go
back into a box of silence."
It added: "We hope that when (Mnangagwa) finishes his stint in State House
the cheers will be for a job well done ... He has the best wishes of most
Zimbabweans, at least today."