Zimbabwe’s former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose sacking led to the shock resignation of long-time leader Robert Mugabe, will be sworn in as the new president on Friday.
Mugabe’s downfall came suddenly for a man once feted across Africa as a liberation hero for leading his country to independence from Britain in 1980 after a war.
The 93-year-old had clung on for a week after the army takeover, with ZANU-PF urging him to go. He finally resigned on Tuesday moments after parliament began an impeachment process seen as the only legal way to force him out.
People danced in the streets of Harare and car horns blared at the news that the Mugabe era was finally over. Some brandished posters of Mnangagwa and army chief General Constantino Chiwenga.
Mugabe led Zimbabwe from relative prosperity to economic ruin, presiding over the forced takeover of white-owned farms at the end of the century, which devastated agricultural foreign exchange earnings and led to hyperinflation.
Alleged human rights abuses and flawed elections prompted many Western countries to impose sanctions in the early-2000s, that worsened the economic problems.
Though new investment from China softened the blow, most of Zimbabwe’s 16 million people remain poor, squeezed by chronic currency shortages and sky-high unemployment.
A Zimbabwean vendor reads a newspaper after President Robert Mugabe resigned in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings.
If Mnangagwa can arrest Zimbabwe’s economic decline, deliver clean elections next year and woo back bilateral support from Western states, new investment could begin to flow. “The transition from Mugabe to Mnangagwa could mark a major and positive shift and put Zimbabwe back on the foreign investor radar,” head of equity research at emerging market bank Exotix Capital, Hasnain Malik, said in a note.