Former President Robert Mugabe has sent “hearty” congratulations to President Emmerson Mnangagwa following his election, the new President said on Sunday.
Before reading his inauguration speech, Mnangagwa said he had received a letter from Mugabe, which he went on to read.
In it, Mugabe said: “To the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde E. D. Mnangagwa. Thank you for the invitation to me and my wife. My wife is unwell and in Singapore. I am also unwell. I have sent my daughter Bona and her husband to represent us. My hearty congratulations to you.”
It is an endorsement Mnangagwa craved from a man he has idolised for decades, but one he – with the military’s help – overthrew last November following his own sacking as Vice President.
On the eve of the July 30 elections, Mugabe vowed not to vote for Zanu PF – a party he founded – because of his ill-treatment by Mnangagwa’s government since his ouster.
They had not met the terms of his pension, including a holiday home; were targeting his wife, Grace, for vilification and were harassing his visitors, Mugabe said of Zimbabwe’s new rulers.
His decision to back Mnangagwa’s 40-year-old MDC Alliance challenger Nelson Chamisa angered Zanu PF. The party’s chairperson Oppah Muchinguri labbed Mugabe a “sellout” while Zanu PF-aligned war veterans have demanded that the main airport in Harare, named after Mugabe, must undergo a name change.
But Mnangagwa betrayed a mixture of delight and visible relief securing Mugabe’s approval – one that is important for the Zanu PF base and is also personal for him.