Felex Share Senior Reporter
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took his Oath of Office yesterday, paid tribute to his predecessor, Cde Robert Mugabe, saying his mistakes will never detract from his immense contribution to the liberation and development of Zimbabwe.
Addressing thousands of Zimbabweans and foreign dignitaries who filled the National Sports Stadium to witness his swearing-in ceremony, President Mnangagwa said Cde Mugabe remained his father and mentor.
“Let me at this stage pay special tribute to one of, and the only surviving father of our nation, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe. He led us in our struggle for national independence and assumed responsibilities of leadership at the formative and very challenging time in the birth of our nation. That is to be lauded and celebrated for all times,” he said.
President Mnangagwa added: “Whatever errors of commission or omission that might have occurred during that critical phase in the life of our nation, let us all accept and acknowledge his immense contribution towards the building of our nation.
“To me personally, he remains a father, mentor, comrade-in-arms and my leader. We thus say thank you to him and trust that our history will grant him his proper place and accord him his deserved stature as one of the founders and leaders of our nation.”
Cde Mugabe, he said, laid a compact foundation for Zimbabweans.
“Whilst I am aware that emotions and expectations might be high and mixed, I have no doubt that over time, we will appreciate the solid foundation laid by my predecessor, against all manner of vicissitudes, towards building an educated, enlightened, skilled and forgiving society,” President Mnangagwa said.
“This is a formidable head-start we draw from our past, a plinth upon which to build developments in the present and to erect hopes for the future.”
President Mnangagwa met Cde Mugabe on Thursday and pledged maximum security and welfare for his family. In return, Cde Mugabe wished President Mnangagwa all the best and promised to support him. President Mnangagwa also paid tribute to senior statesmen from the sadc region led by former Zambian president Dr Kenneth Kaunda.
“He (Dr Kaunda) remains the only living member of the foundational Frontline States grouping which is synonymous with the decolonisation processes in our Southern African region,” President Mnangagwa said.
“We honour him, as indeed we remember all his colleagues now departed. The statesmen who are with us today show a story of succession which speaks well of our continent. It is a narrative that must get bolder and bolder as generations hand over to succeeding ones, all in amity.”
Other former Heads of State who attended yesterday’s event included Messrs Rupiah Banda (Zambia), Hifikepunye Pohamba and Sam Nujoma (Namibia).