South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday praised Zimbabwe’s former President Robert Mugabe for his contribution to the liberation of the southern African region and the decolonization of the African continent in general. Mugabe’s contributions will always be acknowledged and celebrated, Zuma said, extending his good wishes to Mugabe, who resigned on Tuesday after 37 years in power, Xinhua news agency reported. Mugabe’s successor, former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, will be inaugurated on Friday. Zuma’s spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said Zuma will not be able to attend the inauguration of Mnangagwa because he will be hosting Angolan President Joao Manuel Lourenco, who pays his first state visit to South Africa on Friday, the same day when the inauguration takes place. Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele will represent Zuma at the inauguration of the president-elect of Zimbabwe, Ngqulunga said.
Zuma met with Mnangagwa on Wednesday in Pretoria before the latter returned to Harare to take up the presidential helm. Mnangagwa fled to South Africa in self-imposed exile after he was removed from the post of vice president by Mugabe earlier this month. During his meeting with Mnangagwa, Zuma congratulated him and wished him well, said Ngqulunga.