ZIMBABWE’S new President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose rise to power had the fingerprints of a military coup, has called for a culture of smooth succession in Africa.
He spoke after emerging winner from a bitterly contested succession fight involving assassination attempt claims, which was only resolved by military intervention.
While paying tribute to former presidents who graced his inauguration on Friday, Mnangagwa said the narrative of smooth succession must permeate the continent.
“The statesmen who are with us today show a story of succession which speaks well of our continent,” he said.
“It is a narrative that must get bolder and bolder as generations hand over to succeeding ones, all in amity.”
Zambia’s founding father Kenneth Kaunda, Namibia’s first black leader Sam Nunjoma and his successor Hifukepunye Pohamba graced Mnangagwa’s finest hour as he took up the position of Zimbabwe’s second republican President 37 years since the end of settler colonial rule.
Very few countries in Africa have built and sustained a culture of smooth democratic transition. Mnangagwa’s own romp to the presidency was on the back of a military intervention that stormed Harare on November 15, keeping former President Robert Mugabe under house arrest until the new leader was inaugurated.
Mugabe (93) had obstinately refused to hand over power even in the face of pressure from citizens, the military and only capitulated at the 11th hour as Parliament began proceedings to impeach him. Back in 2008, Mugabe lost the first round of elections to opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, but reportedly could not amass enough votes to unseat his rival before the army flexed its muscle during the run off from which the former Prime Minister pulled out, citing systematic State sponsored violence.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa promised free, fair and credible elections next year, adding he would work hard to build a new democracy. He invited the opposition and ordinary Zimbabweans to help him in the process.