On Wednesday, Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as they country's prime minister.
The image of Mugabe administering the oath of office to Morgan Tsvangirai was extraordinary given the history of state-sponsored violence against opponents. The opposition leader has been beaten and was once nearly thrown from a 10th floor window by suspected government thugs.
Tsvangirai acknowledged in a speech after the ceremony that many Zimbabweans don't think the partnership will work, but he said it is the only viable arrangement.
He vowed that he and his party would give their utmost to salvage the ruined economy.
Their power-sharing deal has raised hopes among Zimbabweans of an end to widespread hardship, but wrangling since they signed their agreement in September has stirred doubts over whether they can work together to bring in aid and investment.
Tsvangirai, 56, was sworn in by Mugabe, 84, who has ruled for nearly three decades with his ZANU-PF party since independence from Britain in 1980. Tsvangirai gave a little smile as he finished taking the oath in front of Mugabe, who displayed his usual confidence.
Tsvangirai won a first round presidential poll against Mugabe last year but boycotted a subsequent run-off over violence. He said rescuing the economy would be a top priority.
At a celebration rally attended by some 15,000 supporters later in the day, Tsvangirai pledged to reopen schools that are closed because teachers can't afford bus fare and to fight a cholera epidemic blamed on the cash-strapped government's neglect of hospitals and sanitation, the Associated Press reported.
He drew the biggest cheers when he said all government workers — from teachers to soldiers — would be paid in hard currency starting next month to shield them from the world's highest inflation rate. He did not say how the government would afford that.
People in the crowd threw Zimbabwe dollars like confetti, expressing their contempt for the nearly worthless currency.
The country's economic collapse — for which Tsvangirai holds Mugabe responsible — has left millions of Zimbabwean dependent on international food aid.