Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans gathered at a stadium in Harare on Friday, as Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, took his oath of office as president.
He succeeded ousted Robert Mugabe.
Widely known as, “the Crocodile,” Mnangagwa was all smiles as he was sworn in.
Born in east Zimbabwe, where relatives remember an “active and confident” boy, he spent 10 years in jail during the struggle, gaining O-levels and A-levels and eventually a law degree, then returned to fighting in the bush.
After independence, he was a stalwart of the Zanu-PF party, which he now leads, and was one of Mugabe’s closest aides, cycling through roles including spymaster and security chief, and administering the well-stocked party coffers before being made vice-president.
He fell out of favour, and was ousted along with supporters from his “lacoste” faction, when his own presidential ambitions crossed those of Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
“Mnangagwa isn’t exactly a fresh face. He’s been with Mugabe since 1976. He was the chief hatchet man for Mugabe on and off for 40 years.
“That’s a fact that hasn’t suddenly become irrelevant,” said historian, Stuart Doran.