Mnangagwa, seen here at the conclusion of the final tally of the March 2008 election results at the Rainbow Towers in Harare, Simba Makoni and his chief election agent were also at the tally.
Zimbabwe latest news: Robert Mugabe has now settled on a successor in a move that effectively neutralises the threat of a combined internal ZANU PF to oust him.
In December last year, as the ruling party prepared for its Congress (which was subsequently downgraded to a Conference specifically so that there would be no discussion on the succession issue), I told you that if Mugabe did not announce a successor at the Congress, the two factions that are vying to replace him would combine forces in a replay of the Granita Pact between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The two camps had decided that Mugabe was stringing them along and had no intention of ever retiring.
Mugabe, aware of this, has now told Emmerson Mnagagwa to prepare to take over the reins of the party in 2012, soon after the Heroes Day of that year. In addition, Mugabe has also now given Mnagagwa the go-ahed to start reorganising the party in preparation for his takeover.
Mnagagwa immediately reactivated his network. He has since indicated to Professor Jonathan Moyo, the former Information Minister who was fired Mugabe a few years ago, that the Professor should prepare "for a very senior post" in a new government to be announced after the SADC Extraordinary summit in South Africa on Monday.
Moyo was fired after organising a meeting in Tsholotsho to push for Mnangagwa to be made Vice-President of Zimbabwe after the death of Simon Muzenda. Mugabe accused him of plotting a coup and fired him. Moyo had managed to line up seven out of the ten provincial ZANU PF chairmen behind the Mnangagwa candidacy. Moyo himself expected to be appointed Vice President to represent the Matabeleland region after Mnagagwa had ascended to the presidency.
Professor Moyo is not likely to be given back the ministry of Information, according to discussions he has had with Mnangagwa. The only indication so far is that he will get a "senior ministry."
Mnagagwa was a Special Assistant to Mugabe during the liberation war and especially at the Lancaster House talks that gave Zimbabwe independence from Britain.
Known as Ngwenya (Crocodile), he was amongst the first guerillas to infiltrate what was then Rhodesia to launch the liberation war. He has some legendary status in ZANU PF because of the liberation-war incident on a bridge in Chinoyi, when he stopped a white farmer and slit his throat with a knife.
Mnangagwa was a very young men when he was caught by the Smith regime and sentenced to death. He was subsequently released under a pardon and fled to Mozambique to join up with Mugabe.
After independence, he became the Minister of State Security before his very long reign as Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. After the Jonathan Moyo incident, Mugabe demoted him, effectively, creating a Ministry of Rural Housing and Social Ammenities for him. Mugabe told Mnagagwa at the time that the ministry was created to allow him to build a solid base in the rural strongholds of ZANU PF and hence guarantee himself the presidency of ZANU PF and the country.
Mnagagwa is feared in ZANU PF because of his physical ruthlessness. He has a network of supporters known as "Mnagagwa's Boys" who have a nasty reputation in the party. He featured prominently in Gukurahundi, the massacre of Ndebeles during the 1980s, when he was still at State Security and in charge of special operations.
He was also the main driving force behind the brutal run-off election in June last year from which Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out and which was eventually "won" by Mugabe.
It is a safe bet to say that Mnangagwa is more brutal than Mugabe and any elections he contests for the leadership of the country in the future are certainly going to be extremely violent affairs. He has wanted the presidency so bad that it is certain he will be less compromising than Mugabe. Through his control of the business empire of ZANU PF, he has managed to weave an intricate web of supporters through patronage, giving money, directorships and other perks to a circle that is bound to rally around him as he "campaigns" for the party presidency.
One thing is certain, though, if Mugabe does go in 2012 as he has indicated to Mnagagwa, then we can rest assured that the heir apparent will fight tooth and nail to assume the presidency of the country and the only tool he has known for years is extreme and uncompromising violence. Even with ZANU PF itself, they say that he will go to almost any lengths to succeed Mugabe in office and many were against the sustained violence that he drove during the June run-off, arguing that it was turning even suporters against the ruling party.
Mugabe has worked his tactic again, which is to keep hope alive in his presumed successors that they will take over from him "soon". He previously told them that he would retire in 2008 but then changed his mind, saying he needed to strengthen the party before handing it over.
This latest promise may well go the same way. He has, however, indicated to Mnangagwa that he would relinguish the presidency of the party only in 2012. He now expects to serve out a five year term and promises to hand over the presidency of the country to Mnagagwa in 2013.
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