Emmerson Mnangagwa: The 'Crocodile' who Snapped Back

It has been an open secret in Zimbabwe for many years that Emmerson Mnangagwa would like to succeed Robert Mugabe as president.

And Mr Mugabe has been almost toying with his emotions - one day promoting him to senior positions in both the ruling Zanu-PF party and the government, raising speculation that Mr Mnangagwa was the "heir apparent", but later demoting him after he possibly displayed his ambitions a bit too openly.

But after his latest sacking, it looks as though the patience of the man known as "the crocodile" has finally snapped.

After the president dismissed him and publicly accused him of "treachery", his supporters in the security forces where he made his name intervened on his behalf.

He helped direct Zimbabwe's 1970s war of independence and later became the country's spymaster during the 1980s civil conflict, in which thousands of civilians were killed.
Emmerson Mnangagwa

He has denied any role in the massacres, blaming the army. But anyone hoping that a Mnangagwa presidency would see an end to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe could be mistaken. His critics say the 71-year-old has blood on his hands.

He is known as "the crocodile" because this is the totem of his clan, but it certainly fits him well. As a result, his supporters are known as "Lacoste".

Who is Emmerson Mnangagwa?
  • Known as "the crocodile" because this is the totem of his clan. His supporters are known as "Lacoste"
  • Received military training in China and Egypt
  • Tortured by Rhodesian forces after his "crocodile gang" staged attacks
  • Helped direct Zimbabwe's 1970s war of independence
  • Became the country's spymaster during the 1980s civil conflict, in which thousands of civilians were killed
  • Seen as key link between army, intelligence agencies and Zanu-PF party
  • Accused of masterminding attacks on opposition supporters after 2008 election
Those who fought in the 1970s war, like Mr Mnangagwa, have long monopolised power in Zimbabwe. Afraid that they would lose their positions if Grace Mugabe were to succeed her husband, as seemed to be on the cards, they intervened.

When his close ally, Gen Constantino Chiwenga, warned against the "purging which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background", it was obviously a reference to Mr Mnangagwa's sacking.

"When it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in," he warned, a threat which has now been carried out. - BBC

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