Former Vice-President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Honourable Mr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, paid a courtesy call on President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday.
According to South African Presidency, Mnangagwa and Zuma held talks before heading back to Harare, Zimbabwe to replace fallen President Robert Mugabe.
The presidency said Zuma will thus not travel to Harare as earlier planned.
Speaking to a cheering crowd in Harare on Wednesday night, Mnangagwa said the country was entering a new stage of democracy following Mugabe’s removal as president after nearly four decades in power.
Mnangagwa returned to the country earlier in the day, having fled for his safety when the 93-year-old former leader sacked him as vice president two weeks ago to smooth a path to the succession for his much younger wife Grace.
“The people have spoken. The voice of the people is the voice of God,” Mnangagwa told thousands of supporters gathered outside the ruling ZANU-PF party’s offices in the capital.
“Today we are witnessing the beginning of a new and unfolding democracy.”
Zimbabwe was once one of Africa’s most promising economies but suffered decades of decline as Mugabe pursued policies that included the violent seizure of white-owned commercial farms and money-printing that led to hyperinflation.
Most of its 16 million people remain poor and face currency shortages and sky-high unemployment, something Mnangagwa promised to address.
“We want to grow our economy, we want peace in our country, we want jobs, jobs, jobs,” he told the crowd, adding: “The will of the people will always, always succeed.”
Mnangagwa’s dismissal was the trigger for the army and former political allies to move against Mugabe, feted as an independence hero when Zimbabwe broke with former colonial power Britain in 1980 but later feared as a despot.
He resigned as president on Tuesday as parliament began an impeachment process, after resisting pressure to do so for a week.
People danced in the streets following his downfall, some brandishing posters of Mnangagwa and army chief General Constantino Chiwenga, who led the takeover.
Parliamentary speaker Jacob Mudenda said on Wednesday that Mnangagwa would be sworn in as president on Friday after being nominated by ZANU-PF to fill the vacancy left by Mugabe.
“Mugabe has gone but I don’t see Mnangagwa doing anything different from that old man. This is not the change I expected but let us give him time,” said security guard Edgar Mapuranga, who sat by a bank cash machine that was out of money.
In London, Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain wanted Zimbabwe to rejoin the international community now that Mugabe has resigned.
Mnangagwa met neighbouring South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma before his return on Wednesday.
Mugabe is one of the last of a generation of African leaders who led their countries to independence and then ruled, among them Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya, Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Ivory Coast and South Africa’s Nelson Mandela.
The African Union said he would be remembered “as a fearless pan-Africanist liberation fighter and the father of the independent Zimbabwean nation” and that his decision to step down would enhance his legacy.