New President of Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa vows to ‘re-engage’ with world

Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has pledged to re-engage the country with the world, following the dramatic departure of Robert Mugabe.

In his inauguration speech, Mr Mnangagwa sought to reassure foreign investors to attract badly needed funds to revive Zimbabwe’s failing economy.

And he also praised Mr Mugabe, calling him Zimbabwe’s “founding father”.

Mr Mnangagwa’s dismissal as vice-president earlier this month led the ruling party and the army to intervene.

Mr Mugabe – who had wanted Grace Mugabe, the then-first lady, to take up the presidency – was forced to announce his resignation on Tuesday, ending 37 years of authoritarian rule.

What were the key messages in Mr Mnangagwa’s speech?

Addressing Harare’s packed 60,000-capacity National Sports Stadium, the new leader said Zimbabwe was now “ready and willing for a steady re-engagement with all the nations of the world”.

He said “key choices will have to be made to attract foreign direct investment to tackle high-levels of unemployment while transforming our economy”.

And pledging a “new destiny” for Zimbabwe, he added: “Let us humbly appeal to all of us that we let bygones be bygones.”

Mr Mnangagwa – who had fled the country earlier this month only to return to a hero’s welcome on Wednesday – also said that:

  • Mr Mugabe’s land reforms would not be reversed, but white farmers whose land was seized would be compensated
  • “Acts of corruption must stop”, warning of “swift justice”
  • Elections scheduled for 2018 would go ahead as planned
  • He would be “the president of all citizens, regardless of colour, creed, religion, tribe, totem or political affiliation”

Mr Mnangagwa has for decades been part of Zimbabwe’s ruling elite.

Despite his pledges, he is still associated by many with some of the worst atrocities committed under the ruling Zanu-PF party since the country gained independence in 1980.

He was the country’s spymaster during the 1980s civil conflict, in which thousands of civilians were killed. His ruthlessness won him the nickname “the crocodile”.

But Mr Mnangagwa has denied any role in the massacres, blaming the army.