Zimbabwe’s former army commander, who led a military takeover that helped end Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule, was Thursday sworn in as one of the country’s two vice presidents.
General Constantino Chiwenga, 61, took the oath of office in Harare, pledging to be “faithful” to Zimbabwe and to “obey, uphold and defend the constitution. I will discharge my duties with all my strength and to the best of my knowledge and ability,” said Chiwenga, dressed in a black suit at a ceremony held on the lawns of the presidential residence.
The new president Emmerson Mnangagwa, dozens of government officials, military and police chiefs as well as traditional leaders, attended the event.
Chiwenga retired from the military last week, slightly over a month after the army temporarily took control of the country on November 15, culminating in Mugabe’s resignation six days later.
Mnangagwa, who had a few weeks earlier been humiliated and sacked from his job as vice president by Mugabe, then took over as the head of state.
Mugabe, 93, was ousted from power after the military stepped in following internal feuding and factionalism that escalated in the ruling Zanu-PF party over who would succeed him. Mugabe’s wife Grace had expressed an interest in succeeding her husband.
Chiwenga’s ascent to the country’s second most powerful job has further consolidated the military’s power in the political space of the southern African country. Several other senior army officers have in recent weeks been appointed to ministerial or influential party positions.
President Mnangagwa did not give a speech at the inauguration of his deputies, but told journalists that their responsibility is “to drive the ministers. The performance of the ministers will be reflected by the supervision they give.”
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