Emmerson Mnangagwa celebrates with former adversaries, despite being overlooked by several regional leaders

Emmerson Mnangagwa Celebrates With Former Adversaries, Despite Being Overlooked By Several Regional Leaders
  • Only three out of the 16 Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state attended Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration in Harare on Monday, but that did not stop the party.
  • Mnangagwa promised to work with those who are friendly to him.
  • Judging by those who attended, that includes South Africa, but not all of Zimbabwe’s other neighbours.

Despite the low turnout of regional leaders, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration in Harare on Monday proceeded nonetheless. Only three out of the 16 heads of state from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) attended the event. The leaders who made the trip were Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, and Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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The remaining SADC countries sent their foreign affairs ministers and envoys stationed in Zimbabwe. Notably, Zambia’s president, Hakainde Hichilema, deemed hostile by Mnangagwa, sent his foreign affairs minister, Stanley Kakubo, to represent him. Other notable guests at the ceremony included former Zambian president Edgar Lungu, China’s vice president Han Zheng, former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano, and Belarus’ deputy prime minister Petr Parkhomchyk. Botswana’s Mokgweetsi Masisi did not attend, opting instead to travel to the Africa Down Under (ADU) conference in Australia, and was represented by his envoy stationed in Harare.

Mnangagwa’s election victory, criticized by the SADC Election Observer Mission, the African Union, the European Union, and the Carter Center, has given him the responsibility of leading a country facing high inflation rates, a struggling economy, and rampant corruption. Nevertheless, Mnangagwa expressed optimism about the country’s future in his inauguration speech, emphasizing the importance of self-reliance and Pan-African values.

In his address, Mnangagwa also extended an invitation to countries willing to work with his government, stating, “We stand ready to welcome those nations who want to work with the new Zanu-PF government to build lasting partnerships to make the world a better place. We look forward to joining both traditional and emerging global institutions that accept our hand of friendship.”

Notably, former first lady Grace Mugabe made her first public appearance since her husband’s funeral in September 2019, attending the ceremony alongside her daughter Bona and son Robert Tinotenda Junior. However, her son Chatunga Bellarmine was absent. Other prominent figures present included former vice presidents Joyce Mujuru and Phelekezela Mphoko, who had previously been fired or retired by Mugabe and had experienced tense relationships with Mnangagwa.

Meanwhile, in Gabon, General Brice Nguema was inaugurated as the country’s leader following President Alian Bongo’s re-election. Similar to Mnangagwa, Nguema has close ties to the previous regime and assumed power through familial connections. However, in contrast to Zimbabwe, the timeline for returning to civilian rule in Gabon remains uncertain as opposition parties continue to push for democratic restoration.

Although some members of Bongo’s administration attended the ceremony in Gabon, they faced hostility from civilians who supported the coup. This development adds Gabon to the list of Francophone African countries that have experienced military rule in recent years, challenging France’s influence on the continent.

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