ZIMBABWE’S new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has a “very small window” to show he is meeting national expectations of change after the downfall of Robert Mugabe, the country’s main opposition leader has said.

Morgan Tsvangirai said it will be “very difficult to convince anyone” Zimbabwe’s new leadership is improving the situation as long as much of the population is struggling to get by in the economically devastated country.

Tsvangirai was speaking almost a week after the inauguration of Mnangagwa, a former vice president and close ally of Mugabe, who promised that “harmonised” elections will be held as scheduled next year and that democracy will be strengthened.

Tsvangirai, who joined an uneasy coalition with Mugabe after 2008 elections marred by violence and vote-rigging, said he has doubts about whether Mnangagwa will bring meaningful change.

“The president has to demonstrate that he’s different from Robert Mugabe, that some of the critical policies that he’s going to announce are different from what has been pursued for the last 10 years,” he said, adding: “Give him time. I think he has a very small window because of the high expectation out there.”