Tendai Mugabe and Felex Share, Harare Bureau
Zimbabweans from all walks life yesterday basked in jubilation while full of hope, as they celebrated the birth of the Second Republic as President Mnangagwa took oath of office as the country’s second Executive President.
Yesterday’s inauguration marked the beginning of President Mnangagwa’s full five-year term as the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
It was a momentous occasion where the people of Zimbabwe canonised a new chapter in their history by resting hopes and dreams in a man who committed to be a servant leader.
African leaders and several high level dignitaries from across the world put the icing on the cake by their marvellous attendance.
Even former President, Mr Robert Mugabe could not be outdone and sent his daughter Mrs Bona Mugabe-Chikore to represent him at the historic event.
Opposition figures such as Dr Thokozani Khupe of MDC-T and her deputy Mr Obert Gutu, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, James Maridadi and Eddie Cross also graced the national event that transcended over party politics, noting that after every contest there is ultimately one victor.
Proceedings started as early as 6am with people, mostly Zanu-PF supporters, plastering the giant stadium with green and yellow colours followed by the arrival of foreign Heads of State, special envoys from various regions of the world and other senior dignitaries.
President Mnangagwa and the First Lady Cde Auxilia Mnangagwa marked their triumphal entry around 11am, amid pomp and fanfare.
The Head of State’s arrival was greeted by Jah Prayzah’s popular jam, Kutonga Kwaro, while the crowd was chanting: “ED pfee!”
The inauguration ceremony was also characterised by the highest honour befitting a Head of State and Government — the 21-gun salute and a fly past.
When President Mnangagwa took oath of office, Chief Justice Luke Malaba, who administered the process, proved to be a darling of the people.
There were deafening cheers when Chief Justice Malaba bequeathed President Mnangagwa with a green and gold insignia also known as the Presidential Sash.
Chief Justice Malaba, who stole the show during the inauguration ceremony, is famed for leading the Constitutional Court bench that presided over the election petition by MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa.
The bench ruled that President Mnangagwa was properly elected and upheld the results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declaring President Mnangagwa as the winner.
To conclude the investiture ceremony, President Mnangagwa appended his signature, which caricatures a crocodile, captivating the whole stadium which was now glued to the giant screen.
This was followed by a “Presidential kiss”, when the First Lady was called to the podium to congratulate President Mnangagwa.
Journalists stampeded to capture the rare moment and President Mnangagwa, on a lighter note, asked if they had taken enough pictures.
After a musical interlude by Sulumani Chimbetu, Mahendere Brothers and Sebastian Magacha, President Mnangagwa took to the podium to address the gathering.
In his address, President Mnangagwa said: “On 30th July 2018, we went out in our millions, to define our destiny and shape our future, calmly and peacefully. With the eyes of the world upon us and in the full glare of a broad spectrum of international observers and global media, we all freely exercised our democratic right to elect leaders of our choice, and indeed this we did.
“I wish to thank you, my fellow Zimbabweans, for having heeded to my call for peace and for contributing towards the peaceful environment we are still enjoying to this day.
“You demonstrated that Zimbabweans are by nature, a peace-loving people, and that our democracy has indeed come of age. I further commend you all for the warm hospitality you extended to visitors and observers during this electoral period.
“The isolated and unfortunate incident of violence that reared its ugly head on 1st August 2018 was regrettable and most unacceptable. Such conduct should be alien and vile to our nature, culture and traditions as the Zimbabwean people.
“To put closure and finality to the matter, I will soon be announcing members of the Commission of Inquiry into the said violence, who will upon completion publish their findings. Once again, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the families who lost their loved ones.”
After his speech, President Mnangagwa was showered with congratulatory pleasantries by fellow African Heads of State and Government led by African Union chairperson President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
His deputies Dr Constantino Chiwenga and Cde Kembo Mohadi, special envoys, diplomats, business leaders, judges, church leaders, traditional leaders and family members also congratulated the President.
Earlier, service chiefs led by Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Philip Valerio Sibanda pledged their allegiance to President Mnangagwa.
The event was capped by a soccer match pitting Dynamos and Highlanders football clubs.