1. ITV Report

Emmerson Mnangagwa makes first public appearance after return to Zimbabwe as the country's new leader

  • Video report by ITV News Africa Correspondent John Ray

Zimbabwe's new leader has made his first public appearance in front of a huge, cheering crowd as he returned to the country after Robert Mugabe's shock resignation.

The former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa as he held his arms triumphantly aloft as the crowd cheered, sang and chanted.

In his speech Mr Mnangagwa heralded a "new and unfolding democracy" in Zimbabwe, adding the "people have spoken".

He said the pressure to "derail the process" of getting Mr Mugabe to step down was intense but "the will of the people will always, always succeed."

Mr Mnangagwa thanked the defence forces who were instrumental in ousting Mr Mugabe.

"I appeal to all genuine people of Zimbabwe to come together," Mr Mnangagwa said. "We are all Zimbabweans ... we need peace in our country and jobs, jobs, jobs."

Mr Mnangagwa had return to the capital Harare earlier on Wednesday from neighbouring South Africa. He meet Politburo members at party headquarters for a briefing "on what has been happening in his absence."

He will be sworn in on Friday following Robert Mugabe's stunning resignation after 37 years.

The swearing-in will take place at 10.30am at the 60,000 seat National Sports Stadium on the outskirts of Harare.

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Mr Mnangagwa fled the country after being dismissed by Mugabe, claiming to have received threats on his life.

That led the military to step in a week ago, opening the door for the ruling party and the people to publicly turn against the president.

In return for his resignation, the 93-year-old Mugabe and his wife Grace have won immunity from prosecution and they will stay on in the country as private citizens.

Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa were political rivals. Credit: PA

There were jubilant scenes on Tuesday as Zimbabweans erupted in response to Mr Mugabe's resignation after 37 years in power. People danced in the streets late into the night, thrilled to be rid of a leader whose early promise after the end of white minority rule in 1980 was overtaken by economic collapse, government dysfunction and human rights violations. With some nursing hangovers, they looked over newspaper headlines such as "Adios Bob and Ta-ta President".

"I think this change of government is like a new breath of fresh air right across the country," said Patrick Musira on the streets of the capital, Harare

Robert Mugabe resigned after 37 years in charge. Credit: PA

"Everyone was engulfed with excitement and they are looking for a better future, a brighter future with work."

Zimbabwe's new leaders are faced with a once-prosperous nation whose economy has collapsed, sending well-educated but frustrated young people into desperate work as street vendors, while many have left the country.

Mr Mnangagwa is a former justice and defence minister who served for decades as Mugabe's enforcer, a role that earned him the nickname "Crocodile".

Many opposition supporters believe he was instrumental in the army killings of thousands of people when Mugabe moved against a political rival in the 1980s.

So far in the current political turmoil, Mr Mnangagwa has used inclusive language, saying in a statement hours before Mugabe's resignation that all Zimbabweans should work together to advance their nation.

"Never should the nation be held at ransom by one person ever again, whose desire is to die in office at whatever cost to the nation," Mr Mnangagwa said.