Following the enforced resignation of Robert Mugabe, former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is to be sworn in as Zimbabwe’s new President
Th incoming president will arrive in Harare on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the expected swearing in ceremony.
In a statement, Mr Mnangagwa, who fled for his safety after Mr Mugabe sacked him two weeks ago, congratulated Zimbabweans and promised inclusivity for national progress.
“Together we will ensure a peaceful transition to the consolidation of our democracy, and bring in a fresh start for all Zimbabweans and foster peace and unity.
As I make my way back home, I look forward together with you the people of Zimbabwe to tackle the political and economic challenges facing our beloved country Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mr Mugabe announced his resignation with immediate effect on Tuesday afternoon.
The 93-year-old said he had chosen to step down “to ensure a smooth, peaceful and non-violent transfer of power”, and that he had made the decision voluntarily.
The African Union (AU) also welcomed the decision, saying the people had expressed their will for a “peaceful transfer of power.”
AU commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said he welcomed “the decision by President Robert Mugabe to step down from his position as Head of State following a lifetime of service to the Zimbabwean nation”.
What you need to know about the new Zimbabwean leader
Mr Mnangagwa was elected as the new leader of the ruling ZANU-PF party – an indication that Mr Mugabe underestimated the man he ousted.
He is known as The Crocodile, which some say is after a group of African nationalist rebels in the early days of the fight against white majority rule.
Others, meanwhile, say it stems from his power, ruthlessness and ability to survive the tough, sometimes aggressive world of African politics.
The name is so established that his supporters are known as Team Lacoste, due to the brand’s crocodile logo.
Just three days ago, as Mr Mugabe was refusing to leave office despite the army urging him to quit, crowds of people gathered in Harare waving placards bearing Mr Mnangagwa’s picture and slogans demanding his return to office.
The 75-year-old was loyal to his former boss for years, gaining a reputation for being astute, ruthless and effective.
Many say Mr Mnangagwa was one of those who helped the dictator cling to power when, at times, it seemed as if his grip might be weakening.
He is most notorious for, as the country’s minister for national security, overseeing the security services during the brutal 1983 campaign against the supporters of Mugabe rival Joshua Nkomo, which became known as the Matabeleland massacres.
Between 10,000 and 20,000 Ndebele people are said to have died in Zimbabwe’s southern provinces during the civil conflict, which involved the Zimbabwe army’s Fifth Brigade, equipped and trained by North Korea.
Mr Mnangagwa is rumoured to have amassed a sizeable fortune and been involved in the development of diamond trading in Harare.
The Atlantic Council, a US-based policy institute, says Mr Mnangagwa was targeted by US sanctions in the early 2000s, for undermining democratic development in Zimbabwe, and he was named in a United Nations investigation into exploitation of mineral resources in Congo.
But some say his willingness to work with others in Zimbabwe’s establishment, possibly including opposition figures, could mean the country can finally move forward after years of economic failure and political repression.
In 2008, he was the election agent who helped broker the creation of a unity government that brought in opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister, after balloting that was marked by violence and allegations of vote-rigging.
Former UK foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind told Sky News: “The negative is he’s got a lousy record – he was involved in the very serious massacres in the Matabeleland a long, long time ago – and his succession, if that’s what happens, would be a continuation of the status quo.
“But a smooth succession to Mnangagwa would still be an improvement.
“Not only because he is 20 years younger and not suffering from senility, as Mugabe has at least part of the time, but also because he is more likely to be pragmatic.
“He knows the country is an economic mess.
“If he is going to make any prospects for success, he has to persuade the international community to help on the financial and trading side, and he’s also got to show that he’s willing to include the opposition, who could make an important contribution to Zimbabwe’s gradual recovery.”
On Tuesday, hours before he was due to arrive back in his country, after which he could become the new leader, Mr Mnangagwa said: “The people of Zimbabwe have spoken with one voice and it is my appeal to President Mugabe that he should take heed of this clarion call by the people of Zimbabwe to resign, so that the country can move forward and preserve his legacy.”
So, what is the background of this figure due to take over a role which for many years it appeared no one would ever be allowed to hold?
Emmerson Mnangagwa’s CV
Born: Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa on 15 September 1942, in Zvishavane, a mining town in the midlands of what was then Southern Rhodesia, part of the British Empire.
Parents: His father was a politically active farmer, steeped in the resistance movement against white farmers, according to The New York Times.
Early education: His family relocated to Northern Rhodesia (later Zambia) in 1955. He completed school there before taking a building course from the age of 14. He later transferred to technical college but was expelled for political activism in 1960.
Early career: While trying to work as a builder, he joined the party of later Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda before switching to the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) and then the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU).
Political fight: He joined the battle against white minority rule in Southern Rhodesia in the early 1960s, receiving military training in Egypt and China in 1963.
Convicted: As one of the earliest guerrilla fighters against the government of Ian Smith, he was captured in 1965, tortured and convicted of blowing up a train.
Jailed: As he was judged to be under 21 at the time, he escaped hanging and was jailed for 10 years, alongside other nationalists including Mr Mugabe.
Advanced education: While in jail he undertook correspondence courses and passed O-levels and A-levels, and embarked on a law degree.
Release from jail: After finishing his law degree and starting to practice, he travelled to Mozambique where he became Robert Mugabe’s assistant and bodyguard.
Ascent to government: In 1979, he accompanied Mr Mugabe to London for talks on Zimbabwe’s future, and became security minister the following year after the country received full independence.
Cabinet roles: During his time in government, he has held roles as security minister (1980-1988), justice minister (1989-2000 and 2013-2017), acting finance minister (1995-1996), speaker of the house (2000-2005) and defence minister (2009-2013).
Vice president: He was appointed as number two to Mr Mugabe in 2014, and remained in the position until he was fired on 6 November 2017.