'Crocodile' could replace Mugabe
the big reads
21.08.2019

'Crocodile' could replace Mugabe

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Emmerson Mnangagwa, elected as the new leader of Zimbabwe's ruling political party and positioned to take over as the country's leader, has engineered a remarkable comeback using skills he no doubt learned from his longtime mentor, President Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa served for decades as Mugabe's enforcer - a role that gave him a reputation for being astute, ruthless and effective at manipulating the levers of power.
A leading government figure since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, he became vice president in 2014 and is so widely known as the "Crocodile" that his supporters are called Team Lacoste for the brand's crocodile logo.
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The 75-year-old "is smart and skillful, but will he be a panacea for Zimbabwe's problems? Will he bring good governance and economic management? We'll have to watch this space," said Piers Pigou, southern Africa expert for the International Crisis Group.
Mugabe unwittingly set in motion the events that led to his own downfall, firing his vice president on November 6. Mnangagwa fled the country to avoid arrest.
He has not been seen in public but is believed to be back in Zimbabwe.
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Mnangagwa joined the fight against white minority rule in Rhodesia while still a teen in the 1960s. As one of the earliest guerrilla fighters against Ian Smith's Rhodesian regime, he was captured, tortured and convicted of blowing up a locomotive in 1965.
Sentenced to death by hanging, he was found to be under 21, and his punishment was commuted to 10 years in prison. He was jailed with other prominent nationalists including Mugabe.
While imprisoned, Mnangagwa studied through a correspondence school. After his release in 1975, he went to Zambia, where he completed a law degree. Soon he went to newly independent Marxist Mozambique, where he became Mugabe's assistant and bodyguard.
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When Zimbabwe achieved independence in 1980, Mnangagwa was appointed minister of security. He directed the merger of the Rhodesian army with Mugabe's guerrilla forces and the forces of rival nationalist leader Joshua Nkomo. Ever since, he has kept close ties with the military and security forces.
In 1983, Mugabe launched a brutal campaign against Nkomo's supporters that became known as the Matabeleland massacres.
He is reputed to have amassed a considerable fortune and was named in a United Nations investigation into exploitation of mineral resources in Congo and has been active in making Harare a significant diamond trading centre.
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In recent years, Mnangagwa has promoted himself as an experienced leader who will bring stability to Zimbabwe. But his promises to return Zimbabwe to democracy and prosperity are viewed with skepticism by many experts.
"Despite his claims to be a business-friendly reformer, Zimbabweans know Mnangagwa is the architect of the Matabeland massacres and that he abetted Mugabe's looting of the country," says Todd Moss, Africa expert for the Centre for Global Development.
"Mnangagwa is part of its sad past, not its future."
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