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Emmerson Mnangagwa – Zimbabwe’s ‘crocodile’ who wants another bite

Robert Mugabe
Emmerson Mnangagwa - Zimbabwe’s ‘crocodile’ who wants another bite

When Robert Mugabe was ousted as Zimbabwe’s president in 2017, his replacement, Emmerson Mnangagwa promised a new start for his country’s people.

But as President Mnangagwa seeks re-election at the polls later this month, Zimbabweans are grappling with the same problems – high inflation, poverty and a climate of fear.

The Zanu-PF leader, who is rarely seen without a scarf in the colours of Zimbabwe’s flag around his neck, brushes such criticism aside, saying the nation will be “lost” if it fails to back him – his supporters pointing to a mining boom and other foreign investments during his time in office.

Known as “the crocodile” because of his political cunning, he came to power after a military takeover and mass demonstrations forced Mr Mugabe, long-time leader and Mr Mnangagwa’s former mentor, to resign.

The military revolt was sparked by Mr Mugabe sacking Mr Mnangagwa as his vice-president.

Mr Mnangagwa, who lived up to his nickname and snapped back, may have unseated Zimbabwe’s only ruler, but he is also associated with some of the worst atrocities committed under the ruling party since independence in 1980.

Some of his former comrades in the liberation struggle used to describe him as a “very cruel man”.

But his children see him as a principled, if unemotional, man. His daughter, Farai Mlotshwa – a property developer and the eldest of his nine children by two wives – once described him as a “softie”.

And as he sought to woo foreign investors and dispel his ruthless reputation in 2018, he told the BBC: “I am as soft as wool. I am a very soft person in life.”

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