HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe's incoming leader Emmerson Mnangagwa emerged from hiding Wednesday, departing from neighboring South Africa to return home in preparation to take power after Robert Mugabe's stunning resignation.
The 75-year-old Mnangagwa fled Zimbabwe after Mugabe fired him earlier this month, leading the military to move in and kick off a series of extraordinary events ending in Mugabe stepping down Tuesday amid impeachment proceedings.
Mnangagwa met with South African President Jacob Zuma in a jovial "courtesy call" before taking a private jet from Johannesburg to Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. He went to ruling party headquarters to be briefed by officials.
He will be sworn in as Zimbabwe's new president Friday morning, the speaker of parliament said, after the ruling ZANU-PF party notified him of its nomination of Mnangagwa to replace Mugabe until the end of the current term next year.
Several hundred people gathered in anticipation of his first public remarks. Some carried signs with images of him, suggesting a certain level of organization behind the jubilant turnout. Signs read "Welcome back, our hero" and "True to your word, you're back. Welcome."
One man in the crowd, Godwin Nyarugwa, said he was "very ecstatic" and that "we need change in this country, change in everything" after years of economic crisis. Nyarugwa said he had several university degrees but no job, a common theme among Zimbabwe's well-educated population.
Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.