Zimbabwe is an African country located in the southern region of the continent. The country has vast natural resources that have nourished the citizens over the years despite being mismanaged. Zimbabwe became independent in 1980 with Robert Mugabe as the president. He has been at the helm of power for 37 years until November 2017 when he was forced to step down by the military. Emmerson Mnangagwa was installed as the interim president and sworn in immediately. Though he was fired from vice presidency a few months before by his long serving boss, the military recognized him and swore him in on November 22, 2017.
Early Life and Personal Life
Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa was born in the Zvishavane district on September 15, 1942. He was the son of a political agitator and grandson to a traditional leader. Emmerson is married to Auxilia Mnangagwa. He attended his early education in Zvishavane region before proceeding to the University of Zambia. He later went for further education at the University of London. He underwent military training in China and Egypt which made him one of the youngest elite combatants.
Mnangagwa launched his political career in prison after meeting other jailed nationalists, among them Robert Mugabe. Upon the country gaining independence in 1980, Mnangagwa was appointed a minister for justice. He has headed other dockets such as defense, housing, and the finance ministries. He was once the speaker of the Lower House. In 2014, Emmerson was appointed the vice president, a position he held until November 2017. He was the minister in charge of defense when some of the cruelest crackdowns were carried out against the opposition, and the Matabele people who were great supporters of the opposition leader Joshua Nkomo. Notably, in 1983, he led a massacre on the Matabeleland where thousands of lives were lost in the operation documented as “the Gukurahundi massacre.” He was nicknamed “the Crocodile” for leading the dreaded military squad named Crocodile.
Role in the Struggle for Independence
Mnangagwa joined the struggle for independence while still a student in Britain in the late 1960s where he assisted in advising guerilla fighters. On return to the country, he was instrumental in the fight against the European led Rhodesian government. He was arrested in 1965 after trains were blown off, an offense he confessed to having taken part in, but he pleaded to being underage at the time of committing the crime. He was therefore sentenced to prison where he met other nationalists among them, Mugabe.
From then he worked closely with Mugabe in the struggle against the British, especially in staging guerilla war tactics. Being young and highly educated, he advised the fighters and his immense knowledge contributed to the gaining of independence in 1980.
Path to the Presidency
Mugabe had a disagreement with Mnangagwa, firing him in the process. This was seen as a move to position Grace Mugabe as the next president. Mnangagwa consequently ran away from the country on November 6, 2017. Mugabe’s action prompted the military to stage a rebellion and put him and his family under house arrest. Mugabe was to later resign as the president, a move that was celebrated by many Zimbabweans.
Mnangagwa came back from a short exile after Mugabe resigned due to pressure from the army. The citizens marched on the streets of Harare and other towns celebrating his coronation as the president. He was sworn in on November 22, 2017. He is expected to serve as an interim president up to the 2018 election.