Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa Set To Be Sworn In As President on Friday

(HARARE, Zimbabwe) — Zimbabwe’s recently fired vice president was set to return on Wednesday to be sworn in as the country’s new leader, after Robert Mugabe announced his stunning resignation during impeachment proceedings against him.

The state-run broadcaster reported that Emmerson Mnangagwa would arrive at Manyame Air Base in the capital, Harare, at 6 p.m., and the Parliament speaker said he would be sworn in Friday after the ruling party notified him of its nomination of Mnangagwa to replace Mugabe until the end of the term next year.

Singing and cheering, several hundred people have gathered outside the air force base in anticipation of Mnangagwa’s arrival.

Some carried printed signs with images of Mnangagwa, suggesting a significant level of organization behind the jubilant turnout. Signs read “Welcome back, our hero” and “True to your word, you’re back. Welcome.”

A man in the crowd, Godwin Nyarugwa, said he was “very ecstatic” and that “we need change in this country, change in everything.”

Zimbabwe has been through “crisis after crisis” and Mnangagwa seems best suited to lead the country forward, said Nyarugwa, who has several university degrees but no job.

“We have to try him and see,” he said. “If he doesn’t come up with something, we need to change him as well.”

The air force base where demonstrators are congregating is adjacent to Harare’s international airport.

Zimbabweans are still reeling from Mugabe’s resignation Tuesday. They cheered and danced in the streets of Harare late into the night, thrilled to be rid of a leader whose early promise after the end of white minority rule in 1980 was overtaken by economic collapse, government dysfunction and human rights violations.

Now the focus turns to Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s longtime deputy who was pushed aside earlier this month as unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe positioned herself to replace him and succeed her husband. Mnangagwa fled the country, claiming threats against his life.

That led the military to step in a week ago, opening the door for the ruling party and the people to publicly turn against the president.

It was not clear what the 93-year-old Robert Mugabe and his wife would do next. Mugabe, who was the world’s oldest head of state, said in his resignation letter that legal procedures should be followed to install a new president “no later than tomorrow.”

The privately run Newsday newspaper reported that Mnangagwa would be met on arrival in Harare by army commander Constantino Chiwenga and ruling party officials and then was expected “to meet Mugabe for a briefing.”

Zimbabweans woke up to the first day in 37 years without Mugabe in power. With some nursing hangovers, they looked over newspaper headlines such as “Adios Bob and Ta-ta President.”

“I think this change of government is like a new breath of fresh air right across the country,” said Patrick Musira on the streets of the capital. “Everyone was engulfed with excitement and they are looking for a better future, a brighter future with work.”

Zimbabwe’s new leaders are faced with a once-prosperous nation whose economy has collapsed, sending well-educated but frustrated young people into desperate work as street vendors. Many have left the country altogether.

Mnangagwa is a former justice and defense minister who served for decades as Mugabe’s enforcer, a role that earned him the nickname “Crocodile.” Many opposition supporters believe he was instrumental in the army killings of thousands of people when Mugabe moved against a political rival in the 1980s.

So far in the current political turmoil Mnangagwa has used inclusive language, saying in a statement hours before Mugabe’s resignation that all Zimbabweans should work together to advance their nation.

“Never should the nation be held at ransom by one person ever again, whose desire is to die in office at whatever cost to the nation,” Mnangagwa said.

In a new commentary, the state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper stressed the importance of presidential term limits, saying Zimbabweans will “never again go back into a box of silence.”

It added: “We hope that when (Mnangagwa) finishes his stint in State House the cheers will be for a job well done … He has the best wishes of most Zimbabweans, at least today.”

Somalia’s Al-Shabab Claims Baidoa Attack Killing 30

Islamist militant group al-Shabab has said it carried out Sunday’s attack in Somalia’s southern city of Baidoa that killed at least 30 people.

A car bomb exploded outside a restaurant as people were watching the English Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal.

In a second explosion, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a busy junction.

This is the fourth major al-Shabab attack in Somalia since the beginning of the year.

It came on the same day as countries which contribute to the African Union force in Somalia, Amisom, pledged “to reinforce military operations in Somalia, to effectively counter threats from al-Shabab”.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud held an emergency cabinet meeting on Sunday evening in response to the Baidoa attack, and Security Minister Abdirizak Mohamed Omar called for extra laws to help the government fight the militant group.

AU representative in Somalia Francisco Madeira condemned the attack saying he was “saddened by the loss of innocent lives through acts of terror committed by ruthless individuals who have no value for life”.

In addition to the 30 deaths, the attacks injured 60 people who are being treated in hospital, a local journalist told the BBC.

15 January – on a Kenyan base in el-Ade that Somalia’s president said killed at least 180 soldiers

21 January – on a restaurant at Mogadishu’s Lido beach killing 20 people

26 February – on Mogadishu’s SYL hotel killing nine people

28 February – on a restaurant and busy junction in Baidoa killing at least 30 people

Baidoa is being protected by Ethiopian soldiers, who make up part of the 22,000-strong Amisom force.

Troops from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Sierra Leone and Djibouti are also part of the force that supports the Somali government in its attempt to gain control over the country.

Heads of state from the troop supplying countries said after a meeting in Djibouti on Sunday that they were concerned about the “decision by the European Union to reduce financial support to Amisom… by 20% especially during this critical phase of operations”.

The EU, which pays for troop allowances, decided to cut its funding earlier this month.

The leaders of the countries contributing troops to Amisom have called for an urgent review of their military response to al-Shabab, following weeks of sustained violence.

In addition to the weekend’s attacks, jihadi fighters have clashed with Amisom troops in different parts of the country, forcing the peacekeepers to withdraw from some areas.

Somalia’s allies now say more needs to be done to stem these attacks.

The Amisom nations agreed at Sunday’s meeting in Djibouti that they need more funding and logistical support for their own operations, not to mention helping the Somali National Army stand on its own feet.

The leaders complained that the absence of their troops in some key regions provided a safe haven for al-Shabab.