Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa promises jobs in ‘new democracy’

Zimbabwe’s incoming leader Emmerson Mnangagwa has promised to create jobs after returning from exile to take over from Robert Mugabe.

“We want to grow our economy, we want peace, we want jobs, jobs, jobs,” he told a cheering crowd in Harare.

Some estimates say 90% of Zimbabweans are unemployed. Nearly three-quarters live on less than $5.50 (£4.15) a day.

Mr Mnangagwa, who fled to South Africa two weeks ago, is to be made the new president on Friday, state TV said.

His dismissal led the ruling party and the military to intervene and force an end to Mr Mugabe’s 37-year long rule.

He told supporters at the headquarters of the ruling Zanu-PF party that the country was witnessing the “beginning of a new and unfolding democracy”.

He also said he had been the subject of several assassination plots and thanked the army for running the “process” of removing Mr Mugabe peacefully

The news that 93-year-old Mr Mugabe was stepping down sparked wild celebrations across the country late into Tuesday night.

It came in the form of a letter read out in parliament on Tuesday, abruptly halting impeachment proceedings against him.

In it, Mr Mugabe said he was resigning to allow a smooth and peaceful transfer of power, and that his decision was voluntary.

Will anything really change?

Fergal Keane, BBC Africa editor, Harare

Will Zimbabweans’ spirit of unity, this freedom from fear, endure under a new dispensation? I cannot be at all certain.

Mr Mnangagwa is mired in the excesses of the Mugabe era. He was the deposed president’s loyal henchman for decades and only struck against him to prevent Grace Mugabe from succeeding to the presidency.

This was not a revolution to bring liberal democratic principles into government. It was about power.

That said, there are significant pressures on the new leader to embark on a programme of meaningful change. The corruption and tyranny of the past will not attract the international financial aid and investment that is needed to rescue the nation’s shattered economy.

Mr Mnangagwa will face a strong challenge if he tries to mire Zimbabwe in the despotism of the past.

Perhaps most important is the attitude of the people.

A spokesman for the ruling Zanu-PF party said Mr Mnangagwa, 71, would serve the remainder of Mr Mugabe’s term until elections that are due to be held by September 2018.

Nicknamed the “crocodile” because of his political cunning, Mr Mnangagwa met South African President Jacob Zuma before leaving for Zimbabwe.

Mr Mnangagwa’s firing by Mr Mugabe two weeks ago triggered an unprecedented political crisis in the country.

It had been seen by many as an attempt to clear the way for Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as leader and riled the military leadership, which stepped in and put Mr Mugabe under house arrest.

Under the constitution, the role of successor would normally go to a serving vice-president, and one still remains in post – Phelekezela Mphoko.

However, Mr Mphoko – a key ally of Mrs Mugabe – has just been fired by Zanu-PF and is not believed to be in the country. In his absence, the party has nominated Mr Mnangagwa, the speaker of parliament confirmed.

Some have questioned whether the handover to Mr Mnangagwa will bring about real change in the country.

He was national security chief at a time when thousands of civilians died in post-independence conflict in the 1980s, though he denies having blood on his hands

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai told the BBC he hoped that Zimbabwe was on a “new trajectory” that would include free and fair elections.

He said Mr Mugabe should be allowed to “go and rest for his last days”.

Prominent opposition politician David Coltart tweeted: “We have removed a tyrant but not yet a tyranny.”

African Union president Alpha Condé said he was “truly delighted” by the news, but expressed regret at the way Mr Mugabe’s rule had ended.

“It is a shame that he is leaving through the back door and that he is forsaken by the parliament.



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