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Mnangagwa to take charge of Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe (C) holds hands with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa (L) and First Lady Grace Mugabe (R) earlier this year. Mnangagwa is set to take over according to ZANU PF

Harare, Zimbabwe | AFP | Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose sacking as vice president sparked the crisis that led to Robert Mugabe’s resignation, could be named as the country’s new leader on Wednesday, a ruling party spokesman told AFP.

“I believe that the fired vice president Mnangagwa, who the party central committee endorsed… will come back in the next 24 hours or so and he will be the one who will be sworn in to be president for 90 days,” said ZANU-PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo on Tuesday

Soon after, Zimbabwe army chief General Constantino Chiwenga called for “maximum restraint” and law and order to be upheld after Mugabe’s resignation sparked wild celebrations and plunged the country into uncertainty.

“Against the backdrop of the latest developments in our country, your defence and security services would want to appeal to all Zimbabweans across the political divide to exercise maximum restraint and observe law and order to the fullest,” Chiwenga said at a press briefing.

Mnangagwa back strongly

Mugabe’s resignation on Tuesday as president of Zimbabwe paved the way for Mnangagwa, whose sacking led to the autocrat’s downfall.

On Sunday, Mnangagwa was named president of the ruling ZANU-PF party in place of Mugabe.

That put him one step away from the top job as Mugabe was told to quit or be forced from office.

Nicknamed “Ngwena” (The Crocodile) because of his fearsome power and ruthlessness, the 75-year-old Mnangagwa had appeared to have been outfoxed by Mugabe’s wife, Grace.

The first lady, who is 41 years younger than her husband, lobbied the veteran head of state to ditch his vice president, a long-serving lieutenant, to further her own political ambitions.

But Mnangagwa has close ties with the military, which was alarmed at Grace’s rise, and the generals intervened.

It was the climax of a long feud between Grace and Mugabe’s deputy to be in pole position to replace the ailing leader when he died or retired.

Mnangagwa — a long-time party loyalist and hardliner who, say some, could prove as authoritarian as Mugabe — initially fled to South Africa after his sacking.

But the dramatic seizure of power by the military returned him to centre-stage.

In the early days after independence from Britain in 1980, Mugabe made Mnangagwa, who was then a young trainee lawyer, minister for national security.

Mnangagwa thereafter occupied a host of cabinet positions — but relations between him and his political mentor were not always cosy, and the younger man was no stranger to presidential purges.

In 2004 he lost his post as the secretary for administration in the party after being accused of openly angling for the post of vice president.

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