While President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe prepare for their presidential inauguration ceremony, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) announced its election of Mugabe as deputy chairperson and Malawian President Joyce Banda as chairperson of the regional bloc.

The announcement was released after the SADC’s 33rd Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government Summit in Lilongwe, Malawi, on Sunday. “The summit elected Her Excellence Joyce Banda, [president] of the Republic of Malawi and His Excellence Robert Gabriel Mugabe, president of the Republic of Zimbabwe, as chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of SADC, respectively,” reads part of the statement.

Mugabe’s new position gives him the chair next year, and Zimbabwe will host the region’s Summit of Heads of State and Government. Mugabe’s leadership is clearly highly regarded after his overwhelming margin of victory (61 percent to Morgan Tsvangirai’s 33 percent) in the recent internationally acclaimed “free and fair” harmonized elections on July 31.

South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told U.N. General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic during a meeting in Pretoria on Monday that South Africa had already endorsed the harmonized elections and congratulated Mugabe on his re-election.

“There is absolutely nothing new to discuss on Zimbabwe. The parties that did not win the elections have approached the highest court in Zimbabwe.”

This coming week, maybe on Thursday, we will have a ceremony to take oath of office, after which we will assess the people you elected to come up with a Cabinet,” said Mugabe.

Attempts by Britain and some non-governmental organizations to discredit the elections failed because other countries and groupings—including Comesa, the African Union, China, Russia, the African Caribbean and Pacific members, among others—had already accepted the results.

Turning to Morgan Tsvangirai’s election petition, which challenges the election result, Mugabe said he heard while in Malawi that the MDC-T leader had voluntarily abandoned his case. He said Tsvangirai withdrew his election challenge because he did not have a valid case.