Zimbabwe’s Vice President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa is on cloud nine following his appointment to a position he has wanted for years. Viewed by many as a hardliner in President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party, Mr. Mnangagwa is now most likely to succeed President Robert Mugabe, who turns 91 in February.
Though Mr. Mugabe on Wednesday said Mnangagwa would be ceremonial vice president, many believe the ageing president tapped him to prepare him to succeed him.
The 68-year old Mnangagwa has served in Mr. Mugabe’s government since 1980 and is viewed as one of his most trusted lieutenants.
“I’m happy but with humility,” said Mr. Mnangagwa. “The task is onerous and I have to fulfil the aspirations of our people and the expectations of my party.”
Though he did not want to speak about possibly succeeding Mr. Mugabe, the deputy president-elect said he will work with the cabinet Mr. Mugabe is expected to announce Friday in helping revive an ailing economy he says has been hamstrung for years by Western sanctions.
“Our economy has been under severe attack due to the sanctions and as a result we have not been able to provide the ordinary Zimbabwean with their aspirations,” he said. “But I’m happy that the West is slowly removing the sanctions and we will keep using the United States dollar to avoid problems that the West engineered when we used the Zimbabwe dollar.”
Zimbabweans have for years read stories of a ruthless and heartless Mnangagwa and is widely known as “The Crocodile”. But he told VOA Zimbabweans have nothing to fear. “Those who fear me are not honest people,” said Mr. Mnangagwa, who’s known for being a man of few words.
Mnangagwa also said he’s unfazed by alleged attempts on his life and also dismissed reports of animosity between him and former Vice President Joice Mujuru as a creation of the media. President Mugabe said there had been a cyanide attack targeting Mr. Mnangagwa at his office Wednesday, adding his secretary was battling for her life as a result.
Mnangagwa, who will be sworn-in Friday together with second vice president-elect, Phelekezela Mphoko, said he’s happy President Mugabe picked him as one of his deputies, adding he will give Zimbabwe his all.
Mrs. Mujuru, who served as Mr. Mugabe’s deputy for the last 10 years, was seen by many as the most likely successor to Mr. Mugabe but she fell out of favor following a blistering campaign fronted by the First Lady, Grace Mugabe, on state media suggesting she was plotting to unseat Mr. Mugabe, accusations she denies. voa