There's been a major change in the southern African nation of Zimbabwe. Its former president, Robert Mugabe, resigned last week. He'd been in power since 1980, and held on as president despite instituting policies that ruined the nation's economy. Extended corruption, mismanagement of industries, food shortages — they're all part of Zimbabwe's struggles.
But after President Mugabe fired his vice president earlier this month, other officials were afraid he was paving the way for his wife, Grace Mugabe, to take over. She's also a controversial figure in Zimbabwe.
The military then took control of the nation's capital and though it denied there was a coup, President Mugabe eventually resigned. His former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, returned last week and took over as Zimbabwe's interim leader.
Mnangagwa made it clear he was part of the operation to unseat Mugabe. But he praised Mugabe in the speech, calling him a father, a mentor and a leader and urging Zimbabweans to let bygones be bygones.
New president, Mnangagwa, promised to protect Zimbabweans' rights and the push for solutions to the nation's problems. But partly because he's a long time ally of Mugabe, some of Mnangagwa's critics doubt that he'll be much different than his predecessors. Still, on the streets of the capital, there are signs of optimism.
FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the night freedom returned, so hope Zimbabweans as they took in Robert Mugabe's resignation. They stepped out, embracing a fresh beginning. The men in uniform became the focus of their surging affection. One was even carried on the shoulders of the ecstatic crowd.
SEVENZO: The morning after the night before, Wednesday, it was back to a relatively normal life with a nagging question: how different will the future actually be?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got a very big hope to the change of Zimbabwe. Everything's going to change here in Zimbabwe. We are going to get jobs.
We didn't have jobs, everything, schools — even our current schools are very down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's come together and support him. At least let's give him his time to do whatever he's going to do.
SEVENZO: And for now, this is the man leading Zimbabwe, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa arrived at the ruling party's headquarters to cheering crowds.
He reassured Zimbabweans he is the man to lead them into that future.
EMMERSON MNANGAGWA, INCOMING PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE: Today, we are witnessing the beginning of a new and unfolding democracy.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
MNANGAGWA: We wanted to grow our economy.
MNANGAGWA: We wanted peace in our country.
MNANGAGWA: We wanted jobs, jobs, jobs —
SEVENZO: Mnangagwa will be in power until elections are held in 2018. It is the nation's hope that the freedoms enjoyed as Mugabe left political life will be valued by the new leader.
Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Harare.