Felex Share, Harare Bureau
PRESIDENT designate and Zanu-PF First Secretary Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa will today be sworn-in as the country’s Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces with several Sadc leaders expected to witness the occasion.
The event will be held at the giant National Sports Stadium in Harare.
Thousands of people are expected to witness the inauguration of Zimbabwe’s third President but the second executive one since independence in 1980.
Cde Mnangagwa takes over from President Mugabe who resigned on Tuesday.
Government yesterday availed 125 buses to carry people in all the 10 provinces to the giant stadium as it urged employers to give employees an opportunity to attend the inauguration.
“In view of tomorrow’s inauguration of the President-elect Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, Government is urging employers to afford their employees an opportunity to attend the ceremony which is expected to conclude any time after 1 O’Clock,” Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Mr George Charamba said yesterday.
National Assembly Speaker Advocate Jacob Mudenda said invitations were open to everyone including the opposition as Zimbabwe opens a new chapter engendering the spirit of togetherness.
“The ceremony is on tomorrow at the National Sports Stadium,” Advocate Mudenda said.
Foreign Affairs secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha yesterday said some countries would be represented at Head of State and/or Government level while others would have high level representatives.
“We sent the invitations yesterday (Wednesday) and we expect to receive confirmations today (today),” he said.
“As of now, Presidents Jacob Zuma (South Africa), Edgar Lungu (Zambia), Ian Khama (Botswana) have confirmed they will be coming. Namibia will send their Vice President (Nickey Iyambo) while the Democratic Republic of Congo will send a special representative. Sadc executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax has also confirmed she will be coming and the Speaker of Parliament of South Africa (Baleka Mbete) will also be coming.”
Ambassador Bimha added: “We invited all the Sadc countries and other leaders for the event and the list will obviously grow overnight and we will get to know the other Heads of State or representatives coming.”
Britain’s Africa Minister Rory Stewart arrived yesterday.
Most of the leaders are expected to arrive in Harare this morning. Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs Mirriam Chikukwa said Government had availed 125 buses to the provinces.
“Gates will be opened by 6:30am and proceedings will start around 9am,” she said.
“We know people would want to go and buses have been provided by Government. We have 30 buses for the host province Harare and we are going to have 15 buses in Midlands where the President-designate comes from. The remaining provinces will have 10 buses each. We are encouraging those with transport to assist Government also.”
Minister Chikukwa called for unity and peace.
“My appeal to Zimbabweans is that let us come and enjoy but let us not be over-excited,” she said.
“We must continue to be disciplined. The President-designate is disciplined himself and we have to emulate that. Let us remain calm and do what we are supposed to do within the confines of the law.”
Cde Mnangagwa succeeds President Mugabe who resigned after being recalled as Zanu-PF First Secretary and President by the revolutionary party’s Central Committee last Sunday
The resignation was preceded by an intervention by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces who stepped in to weed out criminals who had surrounded the President culminating in his recall by Zanu-PF.