Zimbabwe's new leadership has authorized a decision to designate former President Robert Mugabe's Feb. 21 birthday a public holiday.
The decision was published in a government notice on Friday, the day of the inauguration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was fired by Mugabe as vice president on Nov. 6 but returned to Zimbabwe after a military takeover.
Most Zimbabweans were delighted when Mugabe resigned Nov. 21 after nearly four decades in power. While acknowledging past mistakes during Mugabe's rule, Mnangagwa described the former leader as a mentor and ruling party officials have continued to praise Mugabe's earlier role in the country's evolution.
The campaign to make 93-year-old Mugabe's birthday a national holiday began during his rule. In August, the government announced the designation after months of lobbying by members of the ruling party's youth league
The leadership of Zimbabwe's Catholic church is urging the new government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to work toward economic recovery and electoral reforms ahead of a national vote in 2018.
The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference said that economic recovery is necessary for peace and stability in the country following the Nov. 21 resignation of former President Robert Mugabe. It said it will work with Zimbabwe's government "for the removal of all forms of sanctions that have been imposed on the country."
The Catholic leaders say electoral reforms will restore confidence and that "the realization of free and fair elections in 2018 will make the outcome more acceptable internally and externally."
Some past elections under Mugabe were marred by allegations of vote-rigging and deadly violence.
The new president, Mnangagwa, has not yet formally appointed his Cabinet.
Zimbabwe's security forces on Monday reported incidents of looting and illegal occupation of farms and houses following the resignation of former President Robert Mugabe and the inauguration of his successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
However, the military and police also said in a joint statement that the "situation in our country has returned to normalcy" after a crisis during which the military staged a takeover and crowds demonstrated against Mugabe at the end of his 37-year rule.
Police, largely absent from the streets of Harare during the tumultuous leadership transition, will assume its role "as stipulated in the constitution" and conduct joint patrols with the military, including in the central business district of Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, the statement said.
Many Zimbabweans applauded the military for its role in Mugabe's resignation on Nov. 21, but resent the police for alleged corruption. At Mnangagwa's inauguration Friday, military commander Gen. Constantino Chiwenga drew cheers from the crowd of tens of thousands of spectators in a sports stadium, while the police commissioner, Gen. Augustine Chihuri, was booed.