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Zimbabwe's New Vice Presidents Set to Take Oaths

Emmerson Mnangagwa appears at ZANU-PF headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe, Dec. 10, 2014.

Zimbabwe's two new vice presidents will be sworn in Friday as the longtime president, Robert Mugabe, names a new Cabinet – and speculation persists on who might succeed the 90-year-old leader.

With the firing of Vice President Joice Mujuru this week, the incoming first vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is considered a likely choice, after decades of a close alliance with Mugabe.

Mnangagwa told VOA's Zimbabwe service Thursday that he was happy about his new role, but also humbled.

"The task is onerous, and I have to fulfill the aspirations of our people and the expectations of my party," he said.

He also addressed his reputation as a ruthless and secretive politician, saying the people who do not trust him are themselves untrustworthy.

"I believe that the people who fear me are not honest people," Mnangagwa said. "They are afraid of looking up to an honest person."

The incoming second vice president, career diplomat Phelekezela Mphoko, is not as well known in his home country, having spent years in diplomatic posts abroad.

Mugabe dismissed Mujuru on Tuesday after accusing her of plotting to assassinate him, an allegation Mujuru has denied.

Mujuru and Mnangagwa were seen as leading rival factions in the ruling ZANU-PF party. Both are seen as likely candidates to succeed Mugabe in the event of his death or his stepping down from power. Mnangagwa has worked closely with Mugabe since the 1970s, unlike Mphoko.

Mugabe gained the power to name his own vice presidents only last week at a ZANU-PF conference.