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The return of the Crocodile

by Staff reporter
19 Nov 2017 at 15:10hrs | Views
Rabidly opposed to the Generation 40 in Zanu-PF factional politics, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa - better known as "Ngwena (Crocodile)" - was born in Zvishavane on September 15, 1942 and is reportedly fronting the Team Lacoste faction that is rooting for the Midlands politician taking over from President Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa did his "O" and "A" Levels through correspondence while in prison although after his release, he later completed his studies in law in Zambia where he was admitted to the Bar of the High Court of Zambia in 1976.

During the liberation struggle, Mnangagwa was a member of the "Crocodile Gang", which at some point included William Ndangana, Mnangagwa, Matthew Malowa, Victor Mlambo, James Dhlamini and Master Tresha.

Besides smuggling arms into the country, one of the gang's other tasks included recruiting supporters from Salisbury, Fort Victoria, Mberengwa and Macheke, smuggling them out through the border at Mutoko for political and military training in Tanzania. They travelled on foot between Salisbury and Mutoko.

During one of their operations, they killed a resident farmer and police reservist, Petrus Oberholtzer, at Nyanyadzi, Chimanimani District and sabotaged a locomotive train in the then Fort Victoria (Masvingo).

Ngwena accompanied Mugabe to the Lancaster House negotiations that led to the independence of Zimbabwe and led the first group of civilian leaders which included Didymus Mutasa and and Eddison Zvobgo from Maputo, Mozambique to Zimbabwe in April 1980.

Mnangagwa, was a long-time confidante and ally of Mugabe - having spent the better part of the liberation struggle as his personal assistant.

At independence in 1980, Mnangagwa was appointed into Mugabe's Cabinet as minister of National Security.

The Midlands godfather has held several Cabinet positions under Mugabe, including at one point being demoted to the less influential post of minister of Rural Housing in 2005.

He, however, regained Mugabe's favour after masterminding the 93-year-old's retention of power in the March 2008 harmonised elections, negotiating a power-sharing agreement with the Movement for Democratic Change's Morgan Tsvangirai on Mugabe's behalf.

In that election, Tsvangirai had beaten Mugabe albeit without a decisive majority to enable him to form a government.

The result was a presidential run-off from which Tsvangirai withdrew citing the killing of over 200 of his supporters.

In Mugabe's next government, Mnangagwa was appointed Defence minister, the capacity in which he served until July 2013 when Zimbabwe held another general election.

Following the 2013 elections, Ngwena became Justice minister, a post he held concurrently with the vice presidency post following the sacking of Joice Mujuru - Mugabe's deputy for 10 years - in December 2014.

Until recently, Mnangagwa had almost become Mugabe's successor. However, the rise of Mugabe's wife - Grace - to the top women's league post led to a meteoric rise in her political profile.

After leading the assault on Mujuru, Grace went all-out for Mnangagwa, attacking him left, right and centre at all political rallies she addressed.

Mnangawa fell ill during a youth interface rally in Gwanda, Matabeleland South Province in August and had to be airlifted to South Africa where he underwent surgery. He has since said he had been poisoned by his enemies in G40.

Mugabe finally fired his deputy on November 6, leading to a series of dramatic events that culminated in the military stepping in to get at "criminals around Mugabe".

After being fired by Mugabe, Mnangagwa skipped the country when it became apparent that he was going to be arrested. A close ally of Defence Forces Commander Constantino Chiwenga, the former vice president is believed to have gone to China via South Africa.

In a biting statement issued immediately after his axing Mnangagwa, who clearly enjoys the support of the military, promised to be back into the country in a few weeks' time to confront Mugabe.

Unconfirmed reports say that Ngwena is back in the country after the military take-over of power.

Meet some of Mnangagwa's key backers

Josiah Hungwe

Hungwe is one of the oldest members of Zanu-PF from Masvingo province and was handed a ministerial post - that of State for Liaising on Psychomotor Activities in Education - by Mugabe.

At some point, Hungwe worked as Provincial Governor for Masvingo Province but was removed following allegations of leaking secrets to the United States alongside his wife and ex-Labour minister July Moyo.

Hungwe is a key member of the Team Lacoste faction, which is rooting for Emmerson Mnangagwa taking over the presidency from Mugabe.

Christopher Mutsvangwa

Born on May 24, 1955, Mutsvangwa is a key member of the team Lacoste faction who served as a diplomat in China in Robert Mugabe's government.

Mutsvangwa is a war veteran and a former War Veterans minister from where he was kicked out by Mugabe in March 2016.

Attempts to kick him out as leader war veterans chairperson failed catastrophically after encountering legal hurdles.

A splinter group of war veterans led by Patrick Nyaruwata, Mandi Chimene and George Mlala, has been effectively rendered illegal by the courts.

Energy Mutodi

Sungura musician, politician who is also an academic, Energy Mutodi was born on August 4, 1978 and was educated at the University of Zimbabwe and Witwatersrand University. He was a  member of the Zanu-PF Mashonaland East provincial executive until his expulsion from the party over spurious allegations.

An avid Facebook follower, Mutodi has a pending court case involving one of his Facebook posts.

A self-confessed Mnangagwa loyalist, Mutodi is a key member of Team Lacoste.


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