Robert Mugabe is among the last of a generation of African leaders who led their countries to independence and then ruled
Zimbabwe’s former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa will be sworn in as president on Friday marking a new era for a country dominated by Robert Mugabe whose swift downfall this week ended nearly four decades in power.
The ruling ZANU-PF party has nominated Mnangagwa to fill the vacancy left by Mugabe on Tuesday and he will be sworn in on Friday, said Jacob Mudenda, the speaker of parliament.
Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa as vice president two weeks ago to smooth a path to the succession for his wife Grace. Mnangagwa fled for his own safety and the military seized control, shattering Mugabe’s authority.
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 Mnangagwa and army chief General Constantino Chiwenga, who led the takeover.
Mnangagwa will land at Manyame Airbase in Harare at 1600 GMT, state broadcaster ZBC said.
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.
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.
A complex legacy
Mugabe leaves a complex legacy. He is among the last of a generation of African leaders who led their countries to independence and then ruled. That group includes Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, Julius Nyerere in Tanzania, Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Ivory Coast and Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
But he also presided over a steep decline in Zimbabwe’s economy, won a series of elections after stifling the opposition and he stands accused of persecuting opponents.
The forced takeover of white-owned farms from around 2000 aimed to bolster populist support for Mugabe but crippled foreign exchange earnings from agriculture and led to a period of hyperinflation.
“President Mugabe will be remembered as a fearless pan-Africanist liberation fighter and the father of the independent Zimbabwean nation,” the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said in a statement.
It said his decision to step down would enhance his legacy.