In his first state of the nation address on Wednesday, Mnangagwa said his priorities were to revive the southern African nation’s ailing economy and fight corruption.
“My government is committed to open Zimbabwe out to investment by building a free and transparent economy which benefits Zimbabweans and is welcoming to outsiders,” he told a joint sitting of the country’s two houses of parliament.
To that end, the government will soon unveil “a robust engagement and re-engagement programme with the international community in our continued bid to rejoin the community of nations”, he said.
At the end of Mugabe’s 37-year rule, Zimbabwe had become a pariah state because of US and European sanctions over human rights abuses, and its economy was in tatters with sky-high unemployment and inflation.
Mnangagwa vowed to build a “new Zimbabwe” based on honesty, transparency and accountability.
The 75-year-old, who critics have accused of corruption and repression, promised zero tolerance against corruption and said his government would do everything in its power to ensure a credible, free-and-fair election next year.
“Economic developments require a clean government,” he said.
“On individual cases of corruption, every case must be investigated and punished in accordance with the dictates of our laws. There should be no sacred cows.”
Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from the capital Harare, said Zimbabweans were “generally positive” about Mnangagwa’s promise to boost economic growth.
“People want jobs, they want economic recovery,” she said. “They say the president said all the right things. But some are saying we have heard all of this before. People are saying they are tired of talk, they want action. They want to see results.”
Zimbabwe’s efforts to re-engage with the world and attract investors depends on the credibility of next year’s election, Mutasa said.
“Ambassadors I’ve spoken to here say they want to wait until elections next year. If they are free, fair and non-violent, it would indicate that there is now stability in Zimbabwe, and could encourage investors to come back and pour money into the economy.”