Zimbabwe’s new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has vowed in his first state of the nation address to ensure free and fair elections, as well as make the country’s troubled economy attractive to investors.
The leader known as “the Crocodile’’ replaced long-time president Robert Mugabe in the wake of a November military coup.
“My government is committed to entrenching a democratic society driven by the respect for the constitution, the rule of law, mutual tolerance, peace and unity,’’ Mr. Mnangagwa told parliament on Wednesday.
Zimbabweans were euphoric after Mr. Mugabe was ousted, but many quickly became doubtful the new president would provide any meaningful change after he appointed a cabinet full of Mugabe-era politicians.
Recently, Mr. Mnangagwa’s Special Adviser and war veteran leader, Christopher Mutsvangwa, told newsmen that the ruling Zanu PF Party would work with the military to ensure victory in the 2018 elections.
Mr. Mnangagwa reassured voters, saying “government will do all in its power to ensure that the 2018 general elections are credible, free and fair.’’
He is expected to appoint former head of the army, Constantino Chiwenga, as his vice president after he retired him this week “pending redeployment.”
Mr. Chiwenga took on near hero-status after he was instrumental in organising the coup.
Mr. Mnangagwa also said he would fix Zimbabwe’s suffering economy, which deteriorated severely under Mugabe’s rule.
Inflation at one point in 2008 hit 231 million per cent.
“My government is committed to opening Zimbabwe up to investment,” the 75-year-old leader said in his 30-minute address.
With high levels of unemployment and poverty, many Zimbabweans have crossed the border to seek work in neighbouring South Africa.