Harare, Zimbabwe – Incoming president, Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to chair his first politburo meeting as leader of the ruling ZANU-PF on Thursday following the dismissal of President Robert Mugabe on Sunday.
In a welcome speech delivered at the party headquarters late on Wednesday, Mnangagwa promised supporters of the liberation party a break from the past.
In his first public remarks since his return to the country, Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was entering a new era of democracy. He was dismissed as vice president earlier this month and had to flee the country for safety due to an internal power struggle to succeed 93-year-old Mugabe.
Mnangagwa returned from South Africa two weeks after a military takeover that saw Mugabe placed under house arrest at his Blue Roof Residence in the capital.
Many supporters expect Mnangagwa’s leadership of the decision-making body to set a different policy agenda that will also be reflected in his presidency of the southern African nation.
Bernard Mpalanga, 47, told Al Jazeera, that although Mnangagwa was part of the old guard, he believed the 75-year-old could set the party and the country on a different path.
“He’s a no nonsense man, if he says he’s going to do to something, he’ll do it. I have faith in him,” he said.
In his welcome speech, promised to turn around the struggling economy and called on all Zimbabweans to work together to turn the country around.
“We want to grow our economy, we want jobs, jobs, jobs,” he emphasised.
He also stressed the need for regional and international co-operation in order for Zimbabwe to recover from a severe economic crisis as the country faces cash shortages amid rising inflation.
A senior International Monetary Fund official said Zimbabwe faces a difficult economic situation and urged for measures to reduce a deficit fuelled by high government spending and policies detrimental to growth.
“Immediate action is critical to reduce the deficit to a sustainable level, accelerate structural reforms, and re-engage with the international community to access much needed financial support,” Gene Leon, IMF’s mission chief for Zimbabwe said in a statement issued to Reuters news agency.
Mnangagwa revealed he has been in contact with several regional leaders including the presidents of neighboring South Africa, Botswana and Namibia as well as former President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania.
According to Mnangagwa, the relative peace maintained during the military takeover that resulted in Mugabe’s eventual resignation, has been commended by the region’s leaders.
“[T]hey have hailed the discipline and peacefulness of the people of Zimbabwe. They are saying the way you have managed this process makes SADC proud,” he said to loud cheers from the crowd.
Shortly before his return, Mnangagwa paid a courtesy call on South African President Jacob Zuma the current chair of the regional trade bloc, the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The Former Vice-President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Honourable Mr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa paid a courtesy call to President Jacob Zuma before heading back to Harare, #Zimbabwehttps://t.co/1lo9NSWA8jpic.twitter.com/yHzbi21lx9
— South African Gov (@GovernmentZA) November 22, 2017
Mnangagwa will be sworn in on Friday at a function to be attended by regional dignitaries including Zuma.
In a statement released shortly after the veteran ruler’s resignation on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the end of Mugabe signaled the possibility for change.
“Zimbabwe has an extraordinary opportunity to set itself on a new path,” he said.
Follow Tendai on Twitter @i_amten.