PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe (89) took the oath of office as Africa’s oldest head of state in front of a packed National Sports Stadium in Harare yesterday.
The stadium has a capacity of 60 000 people.
The inauguration was Mugabe’s fifth since Zimbabwe created the executive presidency in 1987.
He won presidential elections in 1990, 1996, 2002, 2008 and this year.
Notable regional and continental leaders who graced the occasion were Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete (63), Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (71), Swaziland’s Barnabas Dlamini (71), DRC’s Joseph Kabila (42), Mozambique’s Armando Guebuza (70), Namibia’s Hifikepunye Pohamba (78) and Mauritius’s Rajkeswur Purryag (66).
South Africa was represented by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe (64).
Other Sadc countries like Malawi, Zambia, Lesotho, Angola and Botswana also sent representatives in place of their heads of state.
Six former heads of states in attendance were Tanzania’s Ali Hassan Mwinyi (88) and Benjamin Mkapa (74), South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki (71), Namibia’s Sam Nujoma (84), Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda (89) and Botswana’s Festus Mogae (74).
Meanwhile, Sudan-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim castigated ageing African leaders who have clung onto power crowding out young leaders.
“And here we have somebody in a neighbouring country at 90 about to start a new term,” Ibrahim said in Cape Town recently.
The inauguration was the second such public event after the one at Independence at Rufaro Stadium in 1980. Thereafter inaugurations have been held at State House before invited guests.'