Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa (IPA: [m̩.na.ˈᵑɡa.ɡwa], US: (About this sound listen); born 15 September 1942) is a Zimbabwean revolutionary and politician who serves as the 3rd and current President of Zimbabwe since 24 November 2017, elections were held on 30 July 2018, which he won with 2,460,463 votes which is 50.8% of the vote. Previously, he held a series of Cabinet portfolios and was First Vice-President of Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe until November 2017, when he was dismissed before coming to power in a coup d’état. He is a member of ZANU–PF and was a longtime ally of former President Robert Mugabe. Emmerson Mnangagwa was elected President of Zimbabwe on 2 August, 2018.
Mnangagwa was born in 1942 in Shabani, Southern Rhodesia, to a large Shona family. His parents were farmers, and in the 1950s he had to move with his family to Northern Rhodesia because of his father’s political activism. There, he met Robert Mugabe, who was teaching in the area and inspired Mnangagwa to become active in anti-colonial politics. In 1963, he joined the newly-formed Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army as a guerrilla fighter and returned to Rhodesia in 1964. Leading a group called the “Crocodile Gang”, he attacked white-owned farms in the Eastern Highlands. In 1965, he bombed a train near Fort Victoria and was imprisoned for ten years, after which he was released and deported back to Zambia. He then studied law at the University of Zambia and later at the University of London, and practiced as an attorney. Soon, he left legal private practice and went to Portuguese Mozambique to rejoin ZANU. There, he met Robert Mugabe again, and became his assistant and bodyguard, accompanying him to the Lancaster House Agreement which resulted in the independence of Zimbabwe.
After independence, Mnangagwa held a series of senior Cabinet positions under Mugabe, including as Minister of State Security during the Gukurahundi between 1982 and 1985 in which at least 10,000 people, mostly Ndebele civilians, were killed by Zimbabwe National Army’s Fifth Brigade. He served as Speaker of the Parliament until 2005, when he was demoted to Minister of Rural Housing for openly jockeying to succeed the aging Mugabe. He returned to favour during the 2008 general election, in which he ran Mugabe’s campaign, orchestrating political violence against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai. Mnangagwa served as Minister of Defence from 2009 until 2013, when he became Minister of Justice.
He was also appointed First Vice-President in 2014 and was widely considered to be a leading candidate to succeed Mugabe. Mnangagwa was opposed by Mugabe’s wife Grace Mugabe and her Generation 40 faction. He was dismissed as Vice-President on 6 November 2017 by Mugabe, and fled to South Africa. Soon after, General Constantino Chiwenga launched a coup d’état that resulted in Mugabe’s resignation, and Mnangagwa returned to Zimbabwe to assume the presidency.
Mnangagwa is nicknamed ‘Garwe’ or ‘Ngwena’, which means ‘the crocodile’ in the Shona language, initially because that was the name of the guerrilla group he founded, but later because of his political shrewdness. The faction within ZANU-PF that supports him is called Lacoste after the French clothing company whose logo is a crocodile.
Early childhood: 1942–1955
Dambudzo Mnangagwa was born in Shabani (today Zvishavane), a mining town in central Southern Rhodesia, on 15 September 1942. Though some sources give his birth year as 1946, Mnangagwa himself says he was born in 1942. His parents, Mafidhi and Mhurai Mnangagwa, were politically active farmers. He came from a large family – his grandfather had six wives and 32 sons, including his father (daughters were not counted) – and Mnanganga himself is the third of ten siblings. Mnangagwa’s father had two wives, having inherited his Mhurai’s sister on the death of her husband.Mnangagwa then had eight additional half-siblings who were also his cousins. The Mnangagwa family were members of the Karanga people, the largest subgroup of Zimbabwe’s majority Shona ethnic group.
As a young child, Mnangagwa herded cattle and was also permitted to visit the local chief’s court, where he would watch cases being heard in a traditional tribal court setting. His paternal grandfather Mubengo Kushanduka had a large influence on Mnangagwa during his formative years. Kushanduka had served at the court of the Ndebele king Lobengula, and had fought in the Second Matabele War in the 1890s, and Mnangagwa enjoyed listening to him tell stories.
By the late 1940s, Mnangagwa’s father Mafidi was the acting chief of the village. In 1952, a white Land Development Officer arrived and confiscated some cattle from the villagers, including from an elderly women who was left with just three. In response, Mafidhi’s advisors removed a wheel from the officer’s Land Rover, and Mafidhi was arrested. The District Commissioner said he did not want to fight or imprison him, and told him to go Northern Rhodesia. He settled in Mumbwa with a relative. Several years later, Mnangagwa’s father sent for the rest of his family to join him in Northern Rhodesia. They arrived by train in 1955 and settled in Mumbwa, where more extended relatives would come to live over the years. He first met Robert Mugabe when Mugabe stayed with the Mnangagwa family for a time while working at a teachers’ college in Lusaka. Mugabe inspired Mnangagwa to become involved in anti-colonial politics.
Education and early political activity: 1955–1962
Mnangagwa, who had already begun his primary education at Lundi Primary School in Shabani, resumed his education at Myooye School in Mumbwa. Most of his classmates at Myooye had three names, while Mnangagwa only had one, Dambudzo. After finding a book in the school library by the American philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, he decided to adopt the name “Emmerson” before his given name. After a short period at Myooye, Mnangagwa completed standards 4, 5, and 6 at Mumbwa Boarding School. From 1958 to 1959, he attended Kafue Trade School in Kafue, where he took a building course.
Although his course at Kafue was supposed to last three years, Mnangagwa decided in 1959 to leave early and attend Hodgson Technical College, one of the country’s leading educational institutions. Because the college only accepted applicants with O Levels, which he lacked, he took the entrance exam and received a high score. At Hodgson, he enrolled in a four-year City and Guilds Industrial Building program. He became involved in anti-colonial politics, joining and becoming an elected officer of the college’s United National Independence Party (UNIP) branch. His activism sometimes turned violent, and in 1960 he was found guilty of burning one of the college’s buildings and was expelled. After his expulsion, he and three other men started a construction company, which lasted for three months. He was tasked by UNIP leaders to organise and expand the party’s presence in Bancroft, a town in the Copperbelt region, until the end of 1961. After this, he returned to Lusaka where he served as Secretary of the UNIP Youth League while also working in for a private company.
Recruitment and training: 1962–1964
In 1962, Mnangagwa was recruited in Northern Rhodesia by Willie Musarurwa to join the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), a newly-formed pro-independence party in Southern Rhodesia. He joined as a guerrilla fighter for ZAPU’s armed wing, the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), and was sent to train in Tanganyika (today Tanzania). He first stayed in Mbeya, and then at the new training camp in Iringa, where he met leading African nationalists like James Chikerema and Clement Muchachi. While there, he criticized the decisions of ZAPU’s leader, Joshua Nkomo, an offence for which he was sentenced to death by a ZIPRA tribunal. However, two other ZAPU members of the same Karanga background, Simon Muzenda and Leopold Takawira, the party’s external affairs secretary, intervened to save his life.
In April 1963, Mnangagwa and twelve other ZAPU members were sent via Dar es Salaam to Egypt for training at the Egyptian Military Academy in Cairo’s Heliopolis suburb. In August 1963, ten of the thirteen Southern Rhodesians in Egypt, Mnangagwa included, decided to join the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), which had been formed earlier that month as a breakaway group from ZAPU. The ten stopped training for ZAPU and were subsequently detained by Egyptian authorities. During their detention, they contacted Robert Mugabe, who was in Tanganyika at the time, and communicated that they intended to join ZANU and had been detained. Mugabe redirected Trynos Makombe, who was returning from China, to go to Egypt instead and resolve the issue. Makombe secured their release and gave them flight tickets to Dar es Salaam. After arriving in Tanganyika in late August 1963, six of the eleven returned to Southern Rhodesia, while the remaining five, including Mnangagwa, were sent to briefly stay at a training camp in Bagamoyo run by FRELIMO, the group seeking to liberate Mozambique from Portugal’s rule.
Mnangagwa then left Tanganyika to train for ZANU’s militant wing, the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA).Part of the first group of ZANLA fighters sent overseas for training, he and four others were sent to Beijing, China, where he spent the first two months studying at Peking University’s School of Marxism, which was run by the Communist Party of China. He subsequently spent three months in combat training in Nanjing. He then studied at a school for military engineering, before returning to Tanzania in May 1964. There, he briefly stayed at ZANLA’s Itumbi Reefs training camp near Chunya in the southwestern part of the country.
The Crocodile Gang: 1964–1965
Upon returning to Tanzania, Mnangagwa was a founding member of the “Crocodile Gang”, a ZANLA guerrilla unit led by William Ndanga that included the other men he had trained with in China: John Chigaba, Robert Garachani, Lloyd Gundu, Felix Santana, and Phebion Shonhiwa. They were supposed to be provided with weapons, however none were available.They rushed to attend the ZANU Congress in the Mkoba section of Gwelo in central Southern Rhodesia, arriving the day before it commenced. At the Congress, Ndabaningi Sithole was elected President, Leopold Takawira as Vice-President, Herbert Chitepo was to be National Chairman, and Robert Mugabe was elected Secretary General.Shortly after the Congress, three of Mnangagwa’s comrades-in-arms were captured and arrested for smuggling guns into the country.He sent Lawrence Svosve to Lusaka to retrieve some messages, but he was never seen again. Despite these losses, the Crocodile Gang remained active and were joined by Matthew Malowa, a ZANU member who had trained in Egypt.
Besides smuggling weapons into Southern Rhodesia, ZANLA leaders tasked the Crocodile Gang with recruiting new members from the urban centres of Salisbury, Fort Victoria, Mberengwa, and Macheke, and smuggling them through the border at Mutoko into Tanzania for training. The Crocodile Gang traveled back and forth between Salisbury and Mutoko, completely on foot.Soon, ZANU leaders at Sikombela sent the group a message urging them to take some extreme actions in order to raise publicity. They hoped that the exposure would bring ZANU’s efforts to the attention of Organisation of African Unity’s Liberation Committee, which was meeting in Dar es Salaam at the time. The Crocodile Gang, which was at this time composed of William Ndangana, Matthew Malowa, Victor Mlambo, James Dhlamini, Master Tresha, and Mnangagwa, met to make plans at Ndabaningi Sithole’s house in Salisbury’s Highfield township.
On 4 July 1964, the Crocodile Gang ambushed and murdered Pieter Johan Andries Oberholzer, a white foreman and police reservist, in Chimanimani, near Southern Rhodesia’s eastern border.James Dhlamini and Victor Mlambo were caught and hanged, while the others evaded capture.The event marked the first instance of violence in what would become the Rhodesian Bush War, and caused the government to crack down on both ZANU and ZAPU. In August 1964, the administration of Prime Minister Ian Smith imprisoned Ndabaningi Sithole, Leopold Takawira, Edgar Tekere, Enos Nkala, and Maurice Nyagumbo. ZANLA was left with Josiah Tongogara and Herbert Chitepo as its leaders.[Before the Oberholzer murder, the Gang had already bombed the Nyanyadzi police station and attempted other ambushes after arriving in Southern Rhodesia via bus from Kitwe, Northern Rhodesia. They continued their campaign of violence after the murder, setting up roadblocks to terrorize whites and attacking white-owned farms in the country’s Eastern Highlands. They were known for their use of knives and for leaving green handwritten anti-government pamphlets at the scenes of their crimes.
In late 1964, Mnangagwa blew up a train near Fort Victoria (today Masvingo), and was arrested by police inspectors in January 1965 at Michael Mawema’s house in Highfield. Mawema may have betrayed him to police. He was given over to the Rhodesia Special Branch, who tortured him by hanging him upside down and beating him, an ordeal that allegedly cost him hearing in his left ear. He was convicted under Section 37 (1) (b) of the Law and Order Maintenance Act and sentenced to death. However, his lawyers were able to successfully argue that he was younger than twenty-one, the minimum age for execution. Depending on which birth year is accepted for Mnangagwa, this claim might have been a lie. Other sources state that a priest intervened on his behalf, or that he was spared because he was Zambian, not because of his age.Regardless, Mnangagwa was spared execution and sentenced to ten years in prison.
Mnangagwa served the first year of his sentence in Salisbury Central Prison, followed by the Grey Street Prison in Bulawayo, and finally, Khami Maximum Security Prison in Bulawayo, where he entered on 13 August 1966 and spent the last six years and eight months of his sentence. At Khami, Mnangagwa was given the number 841/66 and classified as “D” class, reserved for those considered most dangerous, and was held in a separate block of cells with other political prisoners, whom the government kept away from other prisoners out of fear that they would influence them idealogically.His cell, Cell 42, was in “B” Hall, which also housed future Vice-President Kembo Mohadi and revolutionary and journalist Willie Musarurwa.
Mnangagwa’s cell at Khami was austere, with double-thick walls and only a toilet bucket and Bible allowed inside. At first, while still on death row, he was allowed to leave his cell for only 15 minutes per day, during which he was expected to exercise, empty his toilet bucket, and have a shower in the communal washroom.The Rhodesia Prison Service had different facilities and rules for white and black prisoners, who were subjected to much worse conditions. Black inmates were given just two sets of clothes, and were fed plain sadza and vegetables for every meal. For his first four years at Khami, Mnangagwa was assigned to hard labour. Then, the Red Cross visited and complained to the government about the poor conditions of political prisoners.The government eased conditions somewhat, and instead of hard labour, Mnangagwa volunteered as a tailor, since he already knew how to use a sewing machine. After two years mending other inmates’ tattered clothes, he was told to join the other prisoners in doing hard labour, crushing rocks in a large pit in the prison yard.
He was discharged from Khami on 6 January 1972 and transferred back to Salisbury Central Prison, where he was detained alongside other revolutionaries including Robert Mugabe, Enos Nkala, Maurice Nyagumbo, Edgar Tekere and Didymus Mutasa. There, he befriended Mugabe and attended his prison classes, after which he passed his O Levels and A Levels.Together, they studied law via correspondence. He initially wanted to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Economics, but instead decided to study law. In 1972, he took his final examinations for a Bachelor of Laws through the University of London International Programmes.Mnangagwa and his lawyers discovered a loophole in his law that would allow him to be deported if he claimed to be Zambian. Even after his ten year sentence expired, he remained in prison for several months while his papers were being processed. In 1975, after more than ten years in prison, including three years in solitary confinement, he was released and deported back to Zambia, where his parents were still living.He was brought to the Livingstone border post and handed over to Zambian police. A ZANLA representative met him at the Victoria Falls Bridge and took him back to Lusaka.
Legal studies and ZANU leadership: 1975–1980
Once back in Lusaka, Mnangagwa continued his education at the University of Zambia, where he was active in the student board for politics, graduating with a postgraduate law degree.He then completed his articling with a Lusaka-based law firm led by Enoch Dumbutshena, who would later become Zimbabwe’s first black judge. At the same time, he was also serving at the Secretary for ZANU’s Zambia Division, based in Lusaka. After a couple years working for a private law firm, he left legal practice and went to Mozambique where the Mozambican War of Independence against Portuguese colonial rule was ongoing. He went to Maputo at the request of Josiah Tongogara, and on the basis of the friendship that he had developed with Mugabe while in prison, he became a security chief for ZANU. While there, he met Robert Mugabe again, and became his assistant and bodyguard. At the 1977 ZANU Congress in Chimoio, he was elected Special Assistant to President Mugabe and a member of ZANU’s National Executive. In his capacity as Special Assistant, Mnangagwa headed both the civil and military divisions of ZANU. His deputy was Vitalis Zvinavashe, who was head of security for the Military High Command but still ranked below Mnangagwa in the Central Committee’s Department of Security.
Mnangagwa accompanied Mugabe to the London negotiations that led to the signing of the Lancaster House Agreement, which ended white rule in Rhodesia and created the independent Republic of Zimbabwe. In January 1980, Mnangagwa led the first group of civilian leaders, including Didymus Mutasa and Edson Zvobgo, as they made their way from Maputo, Mozambique to Zimbabwe.
Post-independence political career
Minister of State Security and Gukurahundi: 1980–1988
At Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, Mnangagwa became the country’s first security minister and led the Central Intelligence Organisation. In this position, Mnangagwa was able to cultivate strong relationships with Zimbabwe’s security establishment. He also took over as Chairman of the Joint High Command after General Peter Walls was dismissed and oversaw the integration of ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrillas with the preexisting units of the Rhodesian Army.
While Mnangagwa was security minister, the Zimbabwean Fifth Brigade massacred thousands of civilians – up to 20,000 – mainly ethnic Ndebeles, in Matabeleland during the Gukurahundi civil conflict. Mnangagwa denied that he had any role in this and blamed the army for the deaths. However his intelligence agency worked with the army to suppress Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union. In 1983, Mnangagwa delivered speeches attacking the opposition, describing those who opposed the government as “cockroaches” whose villages should be burned. In a second speech, he said that: “Blessed are they who follow the path of the government laws, for their days on earth shall be increased. But woe unto those who will choose the path of collaboration with dissidents, for we will certainly shorten their stay on earth.”
Publicly available documents from the United States Department of State under the Freedom of Information Act link current Zimbabwe president Mnangagwa and his predecessor Mugabe to Gukurahundi. However, recently Mnangagwa said he had nothing to do with Gukurahundi. The centrality of his role in the massacre is evidenced by the fact that he held the responsibility to explain to the international community and also made most of the public comments on behalf of the Zimbabwe government on the subject of the activities of the North Korean training 5th Brigade. On 5 March 1983, at a rally in Victoria Falls, Emmerson Mnangagwa delivered a threat, using language that would be echoed 11 years later by the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. As The Chronicle reported at the time: “Likening the dissidents to cockroaches and bugs, the minister said the bandit menace had reached such epidemic proportion that the government had to bring ‘DDT’ [pesticide] to get rid of the bandits.” Mnangagwa’s analogy would have been perfectly comprehensible to his audience. The cockroaches and bugs were supporters of Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu) and, more generally, members of the Ndebele ethnic group. The “pesticide” would be deployed by the Fifth Brigade, the infamous North Korean-trained army unit that had already begun its crackdown in Matabeleland and the Midlands, home to most of Zimbabwe’s Ndebele population. The crackdown was named Gukurahundi — meaning, in Shona, “the early rain that washes away the chaff”. It was extraordinarily brutal.
The conflict ended in 1987 with the surrender of ZAPU. Despite the Unity Accord which ended the conflict and merged Mugabe’s ZANU and Nkomo’s ZAPU parties to form ZANU–PF, Mnangagwa is still disliked in Matabeleland because of his role in the conflict.
Minister of Justice and Speaker of Parliament: 1988–2005
From 1988 to 2000, Mnangagwa was Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of the House. He was appointed Acting Minister of Finance from 1995 to 1996 and was also Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs for a short period. In 1998, Mnangagwa was put in charge of Zimbabwe’s intervention in the Second Congo War, and enriched himself through mineral wealth that he seized from the Congo.
Despite ZANU-PF’s influence over electoral outcomes in Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa was defeated in the 2000 parliamentary election by Blessing Chebundo of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Kwekwe constituency. During the election, Chebundo was attacked by assailants who tried to burn him alive, and later had his home burnt. Mugabe appointed him to one of the unelected seats in Parliament. Following the election, he was elected as Speaker of the House of Assembly on 18 July 2000. It was during his time as Speaker of Parliament that the UN investigation into illegal exploitation of natural resources from the Congo recommended a travel ban and financial restrictions upon him for his involvement in making Harare a significant illicit diamond trading centre.
In December 2004, senior ZANU-PF leaders including Mnangagwa and Jonathan Moyo were accused by Mugabe of plotting against him.
In the March 2005 parliamentary election, he was again defeated by Chebundo in Kwekwe, and Mugabe again appointed him to an unelected seat.
After an alleged fallout with the president he was made Minister of Rural Housing from 2005, which was largely seen as a demotion. In 2005, Mnangagwa launched Operation Murambatsvina, in which urban slums home to large populations of urban poor who were opposed to Mugabe were destroyed, which resulted in hundreds of thousands of former residents homeless.
2007 Zimbabwean alleged coup d’état attempt
Main article: 2007 Zimbabwean alleged coup d’état attempt
The Zimbabwean government claimed to have foiled an alleged coup d’état attempt involving almost 400 soldiers and high-ranking members of the military that would have occurred on 2 or 15 June 2007. The alleged leaders of the coup, all of whom were arrested, were retired army Captain Albert Matapo, spokesman for the Zimbabwe National Army Ben Ncube, Major General Engelbert Rugeje, and Air Vice Marshal Elson Moyo.
According to the government the soldiers planned on forcibly removing President Robert Mugabe from office and asking Emmerson Mnangagwa to form a government with the heads of the armed forces. The government first heard of the plot when a former army officer who opposed the coup contacted the police in Paris, France, giving them a map and a list of those involved. Mnangagwa and State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa both said they did not know about the plot, Mnangagwa calling it “stupid”.
Some analysts have speculated that rival successors to Mugabe, such as former ZANLA leader Solomon Mujuru, may have been trying to discredit Mnangagwa.
Treason charges were laid against Matapo and other civilians, but no treason trial ever took place, for lack of evidence. However Matapo and six others (not including Ncube, Rugeje or Moyo) ended up spending seven years in Chikurubi Prison, before being released in 2014. Matapo claimed they were not attempting a coup, and had no interest in supporting Mnangagwa (whom he deemed as bad as Mugabe, and potentially even worse than him), but were simply trying to form a new political party, which was eventually launched by them after their release.
2008 election and return to favour
In the March 2008 parliamentary election, he stood as ZANU-PF’s candidate in the new Chirumanzu-Zibagwe rural constituency and won by an overwhelming margin, receiving 9,645 votes against two MDC candidates, Mudavanhu Masendeke and Thomas Michael Dzingisai, who respectively received 1,548 and 894 votes.
Mnangagwa was Mugabe’s chief election agent during the 2008 presidential election, and it was reported that he headed Mugabe’s campaign behind the scenes. He organised the campaign of violence in the leadup to the second round of voting which forced opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who had won the first round, to withdraw from the election, which secured Mugabe’s continued rule. Mnangagwa then played a critical role in bolstering the legitimacy of Mugabe retaining power by brokering a power sharing pact with Tsvangirai after the disputed result. When a national unity government was sworn in on 13 February 2009, Mnangagwa became Minister of Defense. Following Mugabe’s victory in the July 2013 presidential election, he moved Mnangagwa to the post of Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs on 10 September 2013.
Indigenisation and black economic empowerment
Mnangagwa has, since the early 1990s, played a key role in implementing the “Indigenization and Black Economic Empowerment” initiative, as advised by prominent indigenous businessmen including Ben Mucheche, John Mapondera and Paul Tangi Mhova Mkondo and the think tank and lobby group IBDC, how to propel the policy from Local policy, Ministerial Policy, Government Policy & Development of a ministry specific to Indigenization & Black Economic Empowerment, such as Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill. Mnangagwa believes that the national resources should be protected by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces
Vice President of Zimbabwe
Mnangagwa speaking in 2015
On 10 December 2014, Mugabe appointed Mnangagwa as Vice-President of Zimbabwe, appearing to confirm his position as the presumed successor to Mugabe. His appointment followed the dismissal of his long-time rival in the succession battle, Joice Mujuru, who was cast into the political wilderness amidst allegations that she had plotted against Mugabe. Mnangagwa was sworn in as Vice-President on 12 December 2014, and he was also retained in his post as Minister of Justice.Soon afterward it was reported that Mugabe had begun delegating some presidential duties to Mnangagwa.
In 2015, Mnangagwa launched the Command Agriculture program with the backing of the African Development Bank to invest in communities to make them more agriculturally self-sufficient. He also helped negotiate trade deals worth millions of dollars with BRICS members Russia, China, and South Africa. In 2015, Mnangagwa also headed trade delegations to Europe to try and re-open trade ties broken in 2001 with the imposition of sanctions.
Emmerson Mnangagwa was considered as Mugabe’s likely successor owing to the support he has received from Zimbabwe’s security establishment and veterans of the 1970s guerrilla war, partially because of his leadership of the Joint Operations Command.
He was ZANU-PF’s Secretary of Administration from 2000 until December 2004, when he was demoted to Secretary for Legal Affairs, which was considered a demotion because as Secretary for Administration he had been able to place his supporters in key party positions. The move followed reports that Mnangagwa had been campaigning too hard for the vice presidency. During this time, his main rival as Mugabe’s successor was Joice Mujuru, who was his predecessor as vice-president. Mujuru had garnered a large amount of support in the politburo, central committee, presidium, and among the provincial party chairs. Mnangagwa’s support came from the senior ranks of the security establishment, as well as parts of ZANU-PF’s parliamentary caucus and younger party members. With Mnangagwa appointment as vice president, Mujuru and some of her key supports were dismissed from the government and from the party. Mnangagwa has a strong image in Zimbabwe as a cultivator of stability, and also has support from the Southern African Development Community.
Power struggle, removal from power and resignation of Mugabe
Main article: 2017 Zimbabwean coup d’état
After the dismissal of Joice Mujuru as vice-president in 2014, and Mnangagwa’s ascension to that post, his main rival to succeed Mugabe as president was the president’s wife, Grace Mugabe. Since 2016, Mnangagwa’s political ambitions openly clashed with Grace Mugabe’s. The first lady is suspected of leading the G40 faction (Generation 40), while the other faction, Lacoste, is assumed to be led by Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa used his leadership of the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission to attack leaders of G40 by targeting them with highly publicised criminal investigations.
Mnangagwa said that doctors had confirmed that he had been poisoned during an August 2017 political rally led by the president and had to be airlifted to a hospital in South Africa for treatment. He also pledged his loyalty to the ZANU–PF party and President Mugabe and said that the story spread by his supporters that Grace Mugabe had ordered the poisoning via a dairy farm she controlled was untrue.
Grace Mugabe denied the poisoning claims as ridiculous and rhetorically asked: “Who is Mnangagwa, who is he?” Phelekezela Mphoko, Zimbabwe’s other Vice-President, publicly criticised Mnangagwa, saying that his comments about the August incident were part of an attempt to weaken the country, the power of the president, and divide ZANU–PF, claiming that doctors had concluded that stale food was to blame.
In October 2017, Mnangagwa lost his position as minister of justice to Happyton Bonyongwe, the country’s spymaster, though he maintained the vice-presidency.
Mnangagwa was removed from his post as Vice President on 6 November 2017 by Mugabe after allegedly plotting against the government and displaying “traits of disloyalty, disrespect, deceitfulness and unreliability”, according to Information Minister Simon Khaya Moyo. His removal made it more likely that President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace would follow in her husband’s footsteps as leader of Zimbabwe. She had earlier called on her husband to remove the Vice-President.
Mnangagwa subsequently fled to South Africa citing “incessant threats” against him and his family. On 19 November 2017, Mnangagwa became the leader of ZANU-PF and was reported as likely to soon become President of Zimbabwe after the military and public action against Mugabe. Robert Mugabe was given a deadline of resignation by noon of 20 November before the impeachment process would begin. However, he still refused to step down, despite his political controversy. Before impeachment could begin the next day, Mugabe resigned from office. In accordance with the Zimbabwean constitution, the vice president, Phelekezela Mphoko, became acting president, pending nomination of a new candidate by the ruling party. The ZANU-PF chief whip duly nominated Mnangagwa, telling news organisations that he would take over as president within 48 hours. Mnangagwa returned to Zimbabwe on 22 November 2017, following a temporary stay in South Africa. Zimbabwean State Broadcaster, ZBC, confirmed that Mnangagwa would be sworn in as President of Zimbabwe on 24 November 2017.
The day before his inauguration, Mnangagwa urged his followers not to seek “vengeful retribution” against his political enemies after calls from his supporters to attack the Generation 40 faction.
On 24 November 2017, Mnangagwa was sworn in as Zimbabwe’s new president in Harare’s National Sports Stadium, before a crowd of about sixty thousand.Entertainment was provided by singer Jah Prayzah, and attendees included foreign dignitaries including several African leaders, as well as opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru.
Among the attendees were President Ian Khama of Botswana (warmly welcomed following his repeated recent calls for Mugabe to step down), former Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and founding President Sam Nujoma as well as current Vice President Nickey Iyambo, Presidents Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique and Edgar Lungu of Zambia, as well as former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda, and Rory Stewart, Britain’s Minister of State for Africa and the first British minister to visit Zimbabwe in two decades, who issued a statement describing the change in leaders as “an absolutely critical moment” after Mugabe’s “ruinous rule”. Notable absentees included Mugabe, as well as President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, who was represented by his telecommunications minister, Siyabonga Cwele, as Zuma was hosting a State Visit by Angola’s new head of state, João Lourenço.
Mnangagwa was sworn in by Chief Justice Luke Malaba. During his first speech, he vowed to serve all citizens, revitalize the struggling economy, and reduce corruption. He also paid tribute to Robert Mugabe, who did not attend the inauguration for alleged health reasons, as his mentor. Mnangagwa also distanced himself from his predecessor by promising to “re-engage with the world.” He also said that Mugabe’s post-2000 land reform programmes would be maintained, although white farmers would be compensated for their seized land. He also said that the 2018 general election would go ahead as planned. He also called for an end to EU and US sanctions against top military and ZANU-PF figures (he is himself still under US sanctions for his role under Mugabe).
On 18 January 2018, Mnangagwa signalled his desire to re-engage with the west by inviting the United Nations, European Union and the Commonwealth to monitor elections in Zimbabwe in 2018. Additionally, Mnangagwa has signalled his wish to re-establish good relations with the United Kingdom and additionally rejoin the Commonwealth, a prospect which he said was improved by the British exit from the European Union.
On 27 November 2017, Mnangagwa dissolved the Cabinet of Zimbabwe and appointed only two acting ministers. Misheck Sibanda, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, issued a statement saying “[t]o allow for uninterrupted services in critical ministries of government, the following have been appointed ministers in acting capacity until the announcement of a new cabinet: Honourable Patrick Chinamasa as acting minister of finance and economic development, and Honourable Simbarashe Mumbengegwi as acting minister of foreign affairs.” His new cabinet was named on 30 November 2017. On 3 December 2017, Mnangagwa was met with criticism over his new cabinet appointments which led to him replacing two of his cabinet ministers.
On 6 December 2017, Mnangagwa was criticised because members of the armed forces and police services drove vendors from the streets of Harare and took the goods which they were attempting to sell. Some of the vendors were heard saying Mnangagwa was worse than Robert Mugabe and that “Mugabe was in a way better, he never sent soldiers to take away our goods.”
Main article: 2018 Bulawayo bombing
Whilst leaving the podium after addressing a rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city, and ahead of the scheduled July 31 elections, a grenade was thrown at Emmerson and exploded. Mnangagwa escaped unharmed, although several members of the ZANU-PF party were injured, including his first and second Vice-Presidents; Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, as well as Marry Chiwenga, the first vice-president’s wife.
Mnangagwa has been married three times and has nine children. His first wife was the sister of Josiah Tongogara, a fellow ZANLA commander, and died from cancer in 2000. Auxillia Mnangagwa is his third wife and was born in rural Zimbabwe, and has been involved in ZANU-PF politics since 1982. However, she only became a public figure in 2014 after she was elected in the constituency seat that her husband vacated to become Vice President that year.
His eldest child, Farai Mlotshwa, is a property developer and is married to the lawyer of Mnangagwa’s political rival Phelekezela Mphoko, a backer of the pro-Grace Mugabe Generation 40 faction. His youngest son is a DJ in Harare known as St Emmo. One of his twin sons serves in the presidential guard. Mnangagwa is considered to be one of the richest men in Zimbabwe. Mnangagwa is a supporter of Chelsea F.C., because Ivorian footballer Didier Drogba played there. He is a Methodist church member.