Pomp, fun-fair, high fashion at Mnangagwa inauguration

HARARE - The inauguration of President-designate Emmerson Mnangagwa was all pomp, fun-fair and high fashion on Friday.

Thousands gathered at the National Sports Stadium to witness the end of the military takeover that oversaw the subsequent resignation of Robert Mugabe.

Due to the massive attendance at the inauguration, many people had to be kept outside the stadium arena which was overflowing with Zimbabweans who had come to witness the historic moment.

People were bussed from as far as Kotwa, Beitbridge, Plumtree and Mozambique — all coming to witness Mnangagwa becoming the president.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa

Mnangagwa’s children seated in the tent next to him were all immaculately dressed to witness their father become the third president of Zimbabwe.

Donning matching checked blue suits, his twin sons sat in the front row, while his daughters and the rest of his family were in elaborate dresses and fascinators.

Members of Mudzidzi Wimbo’s church were also in attendance in their pastel pink and blue garments. Those whose absence was conspicuous were the other apostolic churches that once thronged the Rufaro Stadium three weeks ago in a rally organised for former first lady Grace Mugabe. Zion Christian Church was also in attendance and provided entertainment later.

Upon entering the grand arena Mnangagwa was met with screams and cheering as people erupted in chants of Gwena, Garwe and Mdara vauya. Auxilia his wife was in tow dressed in a white two-piece costume that was not too impressing for a first lady.

Nonagenarian and former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda dawdled in back arched with his aids. His presence struck a chord with the crowd as they cheered for the revered statesman who is said to have persuaded Mugabe to rest.

As soon as Morgan Tsvangirai was announced by Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo parts of the ground stand up cheering for the opposition leader. Botswana President Ian Khama followed Tsvangirai causing more commotion as the crowd went wild for the staunch Mugabe critic.

As Khama headed towards his seat at the main tent, he greeted Mnangagwa and Auxilia who were already seated awaiting the arrival of more foreign dignitaries.

People were waiting in anticipation for Mugabe to enter the stadium as the former president considering he was on the programme with other former leaders, but he did not come.

The VIP area were legislators, members of the diplomatic corps, chiefs, family members and members of the uniformed forces was so packed some of the chiefs and their spouses had to sit on the ground as chairs ran out.

Comparing the security detail to Mugabe’s, Mnangagwa’s was a lot more relaxed showing that maybe the new president is confident that the masses are behind him.

To entertain the restless masses, Jah Prayzah and ZCC Mbungo bands were given time during musical interludes.

While Mnangagwa kept a straight face throughout Jah Prayzah’s renditions of Mudhara Achauya and other songs from his latest album, Auxilia nodded to Kutonga Kwaro, a song that is now associated with the military takeover and the president.

Former Namibian presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba also attended with the sitting president Hage Geingob.

As the service chiefs were saluting their new Commander-in-Chief, crowds booed Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri.

Booed - Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri

The booing continued into his pledge during the oath of allegiance with the ZRP chief pausing for a moment for the ruckus to subside.

Even some members of the police force clapped in approval of the booing and crowds shouting Ngaaende (he should go).

When it was General Constantino Chiwenga’s turn, the tables turned as crowds screamed in jubilation shouting Gamba  (hero).

Despite the public address system’s poor sound quality, the little that the crowd heard was met with cheers as their new leader addressed them.