Mugabe takes oath as Zimbabwe president to brace for challenges ahead   2013-08-23 05:02:31            

By Wang Yue and Gretinah Machingura

HARARE, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe's veteran President Robert Mugabe was sworn into office on Thursday for another five-year term against the backdrop of Western rejection of his election victory.

Mugabe, 89, was sworn in at a grand ceremony that was strikingly different from the hastily arranged and small ceremony of 2008.

No foreign heads of state attended his inauguration in 2008, but this year, several heads of state and government attended the ceremony, including Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Mauritius' Rajkeswur Purryag, Mozambique's Armando Guebuza, Tanzania's Jakaya Kikwete, Namibia's Hifikepunye Pohamba and the Democratic Republic of Congo's Joseph Kabila.

Mugabe's re-election in the July 31 vote has been widely endorsed by countries in Africa and beyond, while the West led by the U.S. and Britain has refused to accept his victory, alleging the elections were flawed.

Mugabe declared Thursday a national holiday to allow Zimbabweans to celebrate and attend the inauguration ceremony.

This time, he decided to take the oath in style by abandoning the traditional State House venue for an elaborate event at the 60, 000-seat national stadium in Harare.

The occasion was not only graced by some former African leaders, but foreign musicians as well who added flavor and glamour to the occasion.

Mugabe's inauguration this year came after 18 days of being announced winner, nine more days after the stipulated inauguration day.

The delay was due to a legal challenge by his main rival Morgan Tsvangirai, who alleged vote rigging by Mugabe and his party.

Tsvangirai boycotted Mugabe's swearing in ceremony Thursday.

With a new mandate to govern, several challenges surround Mugabe's new five-year term that include advanced age and associated health problems, a poor performing economy and strained relations with the West.

In a speech after the inauguration, Mugabe bemoaned that the Western sanctions will remain in place for much longer and thus will continue to curtail the full economic potential of the country.

He, however, said he would intensify mineral exploitation to propel economic growth and improve living standards of people.

He said he will continue with the indigenization and economic empowerment program to redistribute wealth to local people.

Under the program, foreign owned firms including mines and banks are required to cede 51 percent shareholding to locals.

Mugabe said the country's natural resources must come under total ownership of locals.

"Our natural resources have not yet fully come our way. The time has now come for us to extend our dominion to all these resources," he said.

While Mugabe has outlined how he plans to revive the economy battered by liquidity challenges, low investment levels and high unemployment, some believe the veteran ruler will find the task difficult to overcome.

Economic analyst Vince Musewe told Xinhua that Mugabe's biggest challenge will be to revitalize the sluggish economy in the absence of significant foreign capital inflows.

Zimbabweans have first to see who Mugabe appoints as ministers and if it is the old guard that has largely been useless, then the country cannot expect any change in governance, he said.

He said the country needs investment and jobs, indicating this would increase disposable incomes and revive industry and agriculture.

"We need to see infrastructure development, consistent energy supplies and access to basic needs improving," he said.

Musewe said getting the money to revamp the economy will be another Mugabe's challenge.

According to him, the veteran leader must first build confidence locally and then internationally.

"Failing that I expect no major changes and more of the same: an economy operating on survival mode, no liquidity and a subsistence attitude by all," he said.

Analysts also contend that another setback for Mugabe will be the continued imposition of Western sanctions on the country.

Mugabe said Thursday following peaceful and credible elections in the country, there was no justification for the continued imposition of the sanctions.

"What is the excuse for these sanctions? Whose interests are those sanctions meant to serve?" he said.

Mugabe has also continued to confound pessimists over his health, who at 89, continues to show rare strength and alertness.

A senior member of his party and outgoing justice minister Patrick Chinamasa recently said Mugabe was a lucky man health wise.

"God gave him good health and for a person at 89 years," Chinamasa said. "He is very clear. He is in good health for a man of his age."


Mugabe sworn in for new five-year term as Zimbabwean president

HARARE, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Newly sworn in President Robert Mugabe said on Thursday that his new government will intensify mineral exploitation to drive economic growth and improve living standards of people.

In his speech after inauguration, Mugabe said the new government will seek to urgently address issues of food security, water supply in urban areas, health provision and infrastructure that have all deteriorated following years of Western sanctions on the southern African country. Full Story

Zimbabwe's veteran president to be sworn in for another five-year term

HARARE, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe's veteran leader Robert Mugabe is to be inaugurated on Thursday for a sixth presidential term as thousands of people flew into the country's giant 60,000- seat national sports stadium for a colorful ceremony.

The inauguration, unlike last one after the disputed 2008 polls, drew attendance of heads of states from African states including Tanzania's Jakaya Kikwete, Mozambique's Armando Guebuza, Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, and Rajkeswur Purryag of Mauritius. Full Story

S. African deputy president to attend Mugabe's inauguration

CAPE TOWN, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- South Africa will send a high- level delegation to Zimbabwe to attend the inauguration of Robert Mugabe who was re-elected as Zimbabwe's president, it was announced on Wednesday.

The delegation comprises Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana- Mashabane, ministerial spokesperson Clayson Monyela said in a statement. Full Story

China pledges unchanged support to Zimbabwe as Mugabe re-elected

HARARE, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- China's leadership has pledged its unchanged support to Zimbabwe's economic and social development and will encourage more businesses to invest in the southern African country, the Chinese special envoy told re-elected Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe on Wednesday.

Li Liguo, minister of civil affairs who acts as Chinese President Xi Jinping's special envoy, said China's leadership attaches great importance to developing China-Zimbabwe relationship and will continue to support Zimbabwe's efforts to maintain stability and seek development. Full Story

Editor: Fu Peng
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