Emmerson Mnangagwa is 75, and for decades he was righthand man to Robert Mugabe, accused of the same human rights abuses and similar corruption.
He is widely known as “the Crocodile”, a liberation war nickname that may have stuck because it suited his reputation for ruthless cunning.
Born in east Zimbabwe, where relatives remember an “active and confident” boy, he spent 10 years in jail during the struggle, gaining O-levels and A-levels and eventually a law degree, then returned to fighting in the bush.
After independence he was a stalwart of the Zanu-PF party, which he now leads, and was one of Mugabe’s closest aides, cycling through roles including spymaster and security chief, and administering the well-stocked party coffers before being made vice-president.
He fell out of favour, and was ousted along with supporters from his “lacoste” faction, when his own presidential ambitions crossed those of Mugabe’s wife, Grace – but the split was very recent.
“Mnangagwa isn’t exactly a fresh face. He’s been with Mugabe since 1976. He was the chief hatchet man for Mugabe on and off for 40 years. That’s a fact that hasn’t suddenly become irrelevant,” said the historian Stuart Doran. [Continue reading…]