Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, who has close ties to the army and the security establishment, returned to Zimbabwe on Wednesday and will be sworn in as the President of Zimbabwe on Friday, taking over the reins from Robert Mugabe who served as a leader of the country for 37 years.
Mnangagwa, who has been the vice-president of Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) for three years, was officially declared to become the President when Mugabe handed over his resignation from office on November 20, 2017.
Well known as ‘the crocodile’, Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF faction is called ‘Lacoste’ and he was a part of the 1970 Zimbabwe war of independence. Throughout his life, Mnangagwa has sat in positions of power. He was an acting Finance Minister for 15 months, Minister of Justice from 1988 to 2000, Speaker of Parliament in 2000, Minister of Rural Housing from 2005 to 2009.
In 2014, a tussle for leadership began among the then vice-president Joice Mujuru, Mnangagwa and the First Lady Grace Mugabe. In a year’s time, Mujuru was evicted from the ZANU-PF party and the battle between Mnangagwa’s faction (Lacoste) and First Lady’s faction (Generation 40 or G-40) carried on for three years.
Earlier in November 2017, Mnangagwa was forced to step down from his office as the vice president on allegations of disloyalty towards the government. The former vice president fled to South Africa on citing threats against him and his family and returned after conditions of guaranteed safety.
Born in central region of Zvishavane, Mnangagwa’s parents were politically active farmers and politics runs in his blood. In 1960, young Mnangagwa exhibited his first political spark, when he was expelled from college which led to blowing up of a locomotive. So at just 18, Mnangagwa was sentenced to prison for 10 years, where he completed his ‘O’ level (10th standard) and ‘A’ level education and enrolled for a law degree. Mnangagwa was released from the prison and deported to Zambia, where he completed his remaining education and received a law degree from University of Zambia. Mnangagwa managed to avoid death penalty as the court held that he was a minor.
After the war of independence in 1970, Mnangagwa worked under Mugabe and became an important figure in the ZANU-PF party.