Mnangagwa takes over as Zanu-PF leader

A couple of weeks ago, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was sacked as Zimbabwe's Vice President by Robert Mugabe.

Today, he was chosen by Zanu-PF to replace Robert Mugabe, who was sacked after a meeting with the army chief and other party officials completing a dramatic week for Zimbabwe.

But who is Mnangagwa?

Nicknamed “Ngwena” (The Crocodile) because of his fearsome power and ruthlessness, the 75-year-old has a reputation for taking no prisoners.

In the early days after independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe made Mnangagwa, who was then a young trainee lawyer, minister for national security.

Since then Mnangagwa occupied a host of cabinet positions — but relations between him and his political mentor have not always been cosy, and the younger man is no stranger to presidential purges.

Four years in the political wilderness followed, during which his then rival Joice Mujuru became vice president and the favourite to succeed Mugabe. She was ultimately deposed following a campaign orchestrated by Grace Mugabe who convinced the president she was not to be trusted.

The 2008 elections, when he was made Mugabe’s chief election agent, changed Mnangagwa’s fortunes.

Mugabe lost the first round, but his supporters were not going to make the same mistake in the second round, which was marred by violence, intimidation and allegations of vote rigging.

He was targeted by EU and US sanctions imposed on Mugabe and his close allies over the elections and violence, but promptly given control of the powerful defence ministry.

It was a return to the home that made him a force in Zimbabwean politics in the first place.

He once remarked that he had been taught to “destroy and kill” — although he later claimed to be a born-again Christian. Takavafira Zhou, a political analyst at Masvingo State University, previously described Mnangagwa as “a hardliner to the core“.

Adopted from The Times.co.za

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