Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Three sitting sadc Heads of State and Government and four other former Presidents from the region attended the swearing-in ceremony of President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday and pledged support for the new administration.
The Presidents, who joined thousands of Zimbabweans at the giant National Sports Stadium in Harare for the ceremony, included Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi, Zambia’s Edgar Lungu and two former presidents of his country, Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Rupiah Banda, and Botswana’s President Ian Khama.
Namibia was represented by its Vice President Nickey Iyambo and former Presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba. South Africa was represented by its Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele. Speaking in an interview soon after his arrival, Botswana President Ian Khama pledged to assist the new Zimbabwean Government.
“We are looking forward to a new era for your country and we hope the people of Zimbabwe have a lot to look forward to, and we, coming from Botswana, will do our best whatever we can, to lend our support for you to achieve your objectives,” he said.
President Khama, who had a strained relationship with former President Cde Robert Mugabe, said he was looking forward to cordial ties with President Mnangagwa.
“I would not like to dwell on the past,” he said. “We are now looking to the future and I expect, starting from today going forward, that we will have very good and excellent relations with President Mnangagwa.”
President Lungu commended Zimbabweans for the manner in which they handled the transition.
“It shows the existence of democracy and we as Zambia, we are very happy with the transition and we pray this will continue,” he said. “Zimbabwe has been our brother through thick and thin.”
President Nyusi said: “We are here with the Zimbabwean people.”
Namibia’s Vice President Iyambo said his country hoped to maintain good relations with President Mnangagwa’s administration.
“We have come to Zimbabwe to meet our new comrades in the seat of power and we thought not to miss this occasion because we have been brothers-in-arms and will be brothers-in-arms as always,” he said.
Former President Nujoma said they wanted the strong ties with Zimbabwe to continue.
“We are here to visit our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe and we hope our presence here will strengthen cooperation,” he said.
According to the South African Presidency, President Jacob Zuma and his Angolan counterpart Joao Lourenco, who is on an official state visit to South Africa, issued a statement on the inauguration of President Mnangagwa saying in a Tweet: “As we meet here this morning, one of our sister countries, Zimbabwe is sailing through a political process which has led to the resignation of President Mugabe and the election of Comrade Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is being sworn in to office today. We take this opportunity to congratulate President Mnangagwa and hope that with the support of the people of Zimbabwe, he will be able to steer the country successfully through this transition period.”
The statement added, “We equally take this opportunity to pay our tribute to former President (Robert) Mugabe for his gallant contribution to the Southern African liberation struggles against colonialism and apartheid.”