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President Emmerson Mnangagwa is now officially the head of state of the Republic of Zimbabwe, after taking the oath of office at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, Friday.

Holding the bible high, the former vice president declared that he would, “be faithful to Zimbabwe and obey and uphold and defend the constitution and all other laws of Zimbabwe,” to loud cheers.

President Mnangagwa, who was with his wife Auxillia, also committed to “protect the rights of the people of Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe New President - Emmerson Mnangagwa
Zimbabwe New President - Emmerson Mnangagwa

Thousands of Zimbabweans packed the National Sports Stadium where the ceremony took place in the capital, Harare.

Several heads of state of other countries, including Botswana and Zambia, which was represented by both the current President Edgar Lungu and also the country’s first President Kenneth Kaunda, graced the event.

Zimbabwe’s Chief Justice Luke Malaba administered the oath of office.

Some attendees traveled a long way for the ceremony. Solomon Gatsa, 34, took a five-hour bus ride from the nation's second city of Bulawayo. He offered the new president some simple advice.

"The first thing, he starts to change the economy. After that, the people need to have a job," Gatsa told VOA.

Spectators cheer from the stands at the inauguration ceremony of President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 24, 2017.
Spectators cheer from the stands at the inauguration ceremony of President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 24, 2017.


Emillia Majandari, who is 35, said she was less focused on the details of his speech. She said she has only ever known one president, Mugabe, and had to see this event in person.

"I'm very excited. I wanted to see for myself; is it real? I'm overexcited. I'm overjoyed, the joy I have, ah!” she said.

Mnangagwa, too, appeared pleased as he accepted the ceremonial sash and trappings of the presidency. But, he said, Zimbabwe has many, many challenges ahead, and told his people that for things to improve, everyone would need to get to work.

Zimbabweans listened — however, the honking horns and the dancing in the streets of Harare on Friday indicate that many people are taking a day to celebrate first.

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