Former Vice President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has alleged that President Robert Mugabe, has threatened his life.
Mnangagwa, who was sacked by the President in November 2017, has fled to South Africa.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe is a Zimbabwean revolutionary and politician. He has been the President of Zimbabwe since 1987. Mugabe has been a key figure in the nation’s political landscape since the country got its independence from Britain in 1980. From 1980 to 1987, he led the nation as the Prime Minister. Prior to assuming the top leadership position in the country, he was the Chair of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) group from 1975 to 1980. Ideologically he is considered an African nationalist. He has identified as a Marxist-Leninist in the past, however has called himself a socialist since the 1990s.
Born in 1924, he became a prominent name in the nation during the 1970s through guerilla warfare. He even served time in prison between 1964 and 1974 for reportedly making anti-government statements.
Despite his initial popularity, Mugabe remains a deeply divisive figure in African politics. He is still hailed as a hero for fighting against imperialism and white minority rule. He has been derided as a dictator responsible for economic mismanagement, widespread corruption, anti-white racial discrimination, human rights abuses, suppression of political critics and crimes against humanity.
Since 2000, the nation has grappled with widespread impoverishment. This has largely been attributed to Mugabe’s policies. He had introduced a land reform program which resulted in the seizure of white-owned farms. This was re-distributed to landless black Zimbabweans. This resulted in sharp falls in production.
In 2002, Commonwealth suspended Zimbabwe after disputed presidential election. In 2008, Morgan Tsvangirai beats Mugabe in the subsequent Presidential election. However, due to violence towards and him and his supporters, he was forced to withdraw. Lack of healthcare is another endemic issue in Zimbabwe. Many hospitals in the country are said to lack even the basic necessities. US and EU have imposed sanctions on the country over perceived violation of human rights. In 2009, Mugabe's ruling party spent more than $250,000 on a lavish birthday party for the leader despite an ongoing food shortage and cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe.
His family has also been accused of leading a lavish lifestyle and are allegedly complicit in corruption.
For close to four decades, Emmerson Mnangagwa was a close ally to the Zimbabwe President. From 1980, he has served as Minister of State Security and the Minister of Justice. He was the Speaker of the Parliament from 2000 to 2005. He allegedly had a falling out with Mugabe at the time and he was “demoted” and made the Minister of Rural Housing. He has been the Vice President of Zimbabwe since 2014.
In November 2017, Mugabe’s government announced that Mnangagwa had been effectively removed from the administration. He was accused of being disloyal. Simon Khaya Moyo, the information minister, said: "The vice president has consistently and persistently exhibited traits of disloyalty, disrespect, deceitfulness and unreliability. It had become evident that his conduct in his discharge of his duties had become inconsistent with his official responsibilities. Mr Mnangagwa's conduct in discharge of his duties is inconsistent with the responsibilities.”
Mnangagwa's sacking means Grace Mugabe, the President’s wife is expected to be appointed Vice-President at a special congress of the ruling Zanu-PF party next month. During a rally in the capital city of Harare, Grace Mugabe said, "The snake must be hit on the head. We must deal with the real snake behind the factions and discord in the party. We are going for the congress as a united party.” "We need someone who is acceptable and with unquestionable loyalty to the party and its principal, the President Comrade RG Mugabe," said Kudzai Chipanga, ZANU-PF youth league leader. "The only person possessing such qualities is ... the first lady."
Mnangagwa for his part has reportedly fled Zimbabwe and has crossed the border to South Africa just two days after being fired. He has alleged that the President threatened his life. The former Vice President has stated that he intends to return to Zimbabwe in the near future. Before he was removed from his position, he was seen as a likely successor to Mugabe who is now 93 years old.
With Mnangagwa's exit, Mugabe has ousted one of his last remaining associates from the liberation war, who have stood by him since independence from Britain in 1980.
Our assessment is that the controversial President of Zimbabwe is taking steps to ensure that the power stays within the family. If Grace Mugabe is appointed the next Vice President of the country, then she will become the next natural successor for the President and her husband. Given the current structure of power in Zimbabwe, it is unlikely Mnangagwa will be able to overthrow the President.