Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa (born 15 September 1946) is a Zimbabwean politician who has served in the government of Zimbabwe as Minister of Justice since 2013. He was previously Minister of State Security from 1980 to 1988, Minister of Justice from 1988 to 2000, Speaker of Parliament from 2000 to 2005, Minister of Rural Housing from 2005 to 2009, and Minister of Defense from 2009 to 2013.
Mnangagwa is thought to be one of the most powerful figures in the ruling ZANU-PF party, head of the Joint Operations Command and a leading candidate to succeed Robert Mugabe. He was ZANU-PF's Secretary of Administration from July 2000 to December 2004 and has been its Secretary for Legal Affairs since December 2004.
Education and training
He completed his early education up to Standard 4 at Lundi Primary School in Mnangagwa Village, Zvishavane, but the repressive political situation forced his family to relocate to Northern Rhodesia in 1955 where he completed Standard 4. He successfully completed his standard 5 and 6 at Mumbwa Boarding School from 1956–1957 and enrolled at Kafue Trade School for a Building course. Although it was a three-year course, he was selected to enter Hodgson Technical College. Since the college only accepted applicants with "O" Levels, he sat for an entry examination, and achieved a first class result. This enabled him to enroll for a four-year City and Guilds Industrial Building Course. With others, he was subsequently expelled from college in 1960 for political activism which led to the burning of some property. He had joined the UNIP student movement at the college and had already been elected into the executive.
He completed his 'O' and 'A' levels while in prison through correspondence following which he enrolled for a law degree. He wanted to register for a BSc Economics degree but was instead, allowed to do the Law degree. He successfully completed Part One of the Intermediate Exams at Khami prison and passed at his first seating. He sat for the final exams and passed again. In 1972 he sat for his final LLB examinations with the University of London.
After his release from prison and subsequent deportation to Zambia, the Party resolved that he should complete his Law Degree first and so he enrolled at the University of Zambia where he remained from 1973 to 1974. In 1975, he did his post-graduate LLB degree and another post programme in Advocacy. After successfully completing his law studies, he was admitted to the Bar of the High Court of Zambia in 1976.
Regarded as the wealthiest individual in Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa has close business links with Col. Lionel Dyck, a white officer from the old Rhodesian Army who founded Mine Tech, a landmine clearance company that secured lucrative contracts from the Zimbabwe government to clear landmines in Zimbabwe border areas after the war. Mine Tech is now owned by the British company Exploration Logistics whose chairman is Alastair Morrison OBE, MC, a former equerry of HRH The Duke of Gloucester and a former 2ic. of 22 SAS. Mine Tech now has substantial UN and UK/EU contracts as well as its on-going Zimbabwe operations.
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In 1960, he was expelled from Hodgson Technical College for political activism which had resulted in the burning of some property. Following this incident, he joined hands with three others and started a construction company at Nampala which lasted for three months. He was asked by the United National Independence Party to help organise the party at Chililabombwe (Bancroft) until the end of 1961. Following this, he returned to Lusaka where he became Secretary for the UNIP Youth League while working for a private company.
In 1962 he was recruited into Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) by Willie Musarurwa. After joining ZAPU, he left for Tanzania and stayed in Mbeya for quite some time with the likes of James Chikerema, Clement Muchachi and Danha. They then opened a camp for ZAPU up to March 1963.
In August 1963 he and 10 of the 13 cadres decided to join the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), which had just been formed at home. This led to their detention by Egyptian authorities who recognised ZAPU.
During the detention period, he communicated with Robert Mugabe who was in Tanzania at the time and told him that 11 students had broken away from ZAPU, stopped training and were now detained. Mugabe sent Trynos Makombe who was travelling from China to come to Egypt to secure their release. After getting released, they were given tickets to fly to Tanganyika.
On arrival in Tanganyika, six of the eleven came back to Rhodesia while Mnangagwa and the remaining five joined the first Frelimo Camp at Bagamoyo in late August 1963. He then proceeded to China with other Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) cadres, where they spent the first two months at the School of Ideology in Beijing. Combat training was conducted in Nanking for the next three months; Mnangagwa subsequently remained at another school for military engineering. The group consisted of Felix Santana, Robert Garachani, Lloyd Gundu, Phebion Shonhiwa, and John Chigaba. After completing military training in May 1964, they went back to Tanganyika, where they found that John Mataure and Noel Mukono who were responsible for defence at the time, had not organised any weapons for them to operate in the then-Southern Rhodesia.
- Rev Ndabaningi Sithole– President
- Leopold Takawira -Vice-President
- Herbert Chitepo– National chairman
- Robert Mugabe– Secretary General
Following the ZANU Congress, three of his colleagues, i.e., Shoniwa, Jameson Mudavanhu and Edison Shirihuru were captured and arrested. He sent Lawrence Svosve to go back to Lusaka with some messages but never saw him again.
In spite of this setback, he remained in operation and joined up with Matthew Malowa who had trained in Egypt and had joined ZANU. They carried out daring operations in the country. Their major task was to recruit supporters from Salisbury, Fort Victoria, Mberengwa, and Macheke and smuggle them through to the Mutoko border so that they could go to Tanzania through Malawi.
It was during these operations that he and Malowa sabotaged a locomotive train in Fort Victoria. The leadership at Sikombela had sent the duo a message exhorting them to take some action so that the papers would report that it was the ZANU Military High Command which had carried it out. The cuttings would then be shown to the OAU Liberation Committee which was meeting in Dar es Salaam so that it would see that ZANU was actually active in the country.
The operations also involved traversing the country on foot from Mberengwa to Mutoko. It was at this stage that William Ndangana came from Lusaka for a meeting at Rev Ndabaningi Sithole's house in Highfield. It organised a group which included himself, William Ndangana, Victor Mlambo, James Dhlamini and Master Tresha to mount some roadblocks. The group, which is often referred to as the 'Crocodile Gang', killed a white farmer known as Peter Obeholzar at Nyanyadzi in Chimanimani. The incident resulted in the capture and subsequent hanging of James Dhlamini and Victor Mlambo. Ndangana was able to escape to Zambia while the young man was captured but was sentenced to life imprisonment because he was under age.
In January 1965, Mnangagwa was arrested by British South Africa Police inspectors at Michael Mawema's house in Highfield. It later transpired that Mawema had betrayed him to the Rhodesian police. One of Mnangagwa's other associates, John Chigaba, was later detained for an attempt on Mawema's life.
He was forced to confess that he had blown up the locomotive in Masvingo and was convicted under the Law and Order Maintenance Act. He was defended by J. J. Horn of Scanlen and Holderness who pleaded that he was under age and could not be executed. Following this, he was taken to hospital where doctors confirmed that he was under 21 and as a result, he was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment. He served the first year at Salisbury Prison and then went to Grey Prison following which he was sent to Khami Prison where he spent 6 years and 8 months.
After serving his 10-year sentence, he was further detained at Khami and then at Harare Prison together with other Nationalists like Robert Mugabe, Enos Nkala, Maurice Nyagumbo, Edgar Tekere and Didymus Mutasa. He was then deported to Zambia where his parents were.
Mnangagwa was received by the Party at the Livingstone Border post and handed over to the Zambian police. A Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) representative, Baya, came to receive him at the Victoria Falls Bridge and proceeded with him to Lusaka. Josiah Tongogara was Commander of ZANLA.
After completing his studies at the University of Zambia, he practised law with Enoch Dumbutshena and doubled up as Secretary for ZANU for the Zambia Division in Lusaka. He was also in the student board for politics at the University of Zambia.
At the Chimoio Congress in 1977, he was elected Special Assistant to the President and member of the National Executive for ZANU. He then left practice and joined the President around October 1977 in Chimoio. The post of Special Assistant meant that he was head of both the civil and military divisions of the Party. His number 2 was Gava (now Retired General Zvinavashe) who was Head of Security in the Military High Command but was his deputy in the Central Committee in the Department of Security.
He participated in the Lancaster House Conference and in January 1980, led the first group of civilian leaders which included Didymus Mutasa and Edson Zvobgo from Maputo to Zimbabwe. Rex Nhongo (now Retired General Mujuru) also led the first group of commanders numbering 28 from Maputo to the ceasefire.
Parliamentary and ministerial career
He became the first Minister of National Security from 1980 to 1988, and after General Peter Walls left the country under dubious circumstances related to making plans for a coup, he took over as Chairman of the Joint High Command. The task involved responsibility for the integration of ZANLA, the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) and the Rhodesian Army. From 1988 to 2000, he was Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of the House. This was the period following the Unity Accord. He was appointed Acting Minister of Finance for 15 months from 1995 to 1996 and was also Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs for a short period. His tenure as Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs saw him setting up the Judicial College and the Small Claims Court to address the critical shortage of magistrates, prosecutors and other judicial officers in the country. He also introduced several amendments to various Acts and the Constitution.
Mnangagwa was defeated in the 2000 parliamentary election by Blessing Chebundo of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Kwekwe constituency, but Mugabe appointed him to one of the unelected seats in Parliament. Following the election, he was elected as Speaker of Parliament on 18 July 2000. It was during his time as Speaker of Parliament that the UN investigation into illegal exploitation of natural resources from the Congo recommended a travel ban and financial restrictions upon him for his involvement in making Harare a significant illicit diamond trading centre. In the March 2005 parliamentary election, he was again defeated by Chebundo in Kwekwe, and Mugabe again appointed him to an unelected seat. His campaign manager blamed this defeat on the Mujuru faction, saying that it had "manipulated the situation" so that the MDC could win the seat and thereby undermine Mnangagwa. In the March 2008 parliamentary election, he stood as ZANU-PF's candidate in the new Chirumanzi–Zibagwe rural constituency and won by an overwhelming margin, receiving 9,645 votes against two MDC candidates, Mudavanhu Masendeke and Thomas Michael Dzingisai, who respectively received 1,548 and 894 votes.
Mnangagwa was Mugabe's chief election agent during the 2008 presidential election, and it was reported that he headed Mugabe's campaign behind the scenes. When a national unity government was sworn in on 13 February 2009, Mnangagwa became Minister of Defense. Following Mugabe's victory in the July 2013 presidential election, he moved Mnangagwa to the post of Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs on 10 September 2013.
Indigenization & black economic empowerment
Emmerson Mnangagwa has, since the early 1990s, played a key role in implementing the Indigenization & Black Economic Empowerment initiative, as advised by Indigenous Businessmen Think Tank & Lobby Group IBDC, how to propel the policy from Local policy, Ministerial Policy, Government Policy & Development of a ministry specific to Indigenization & Black Economic Empowerment, such as Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill. Mnangagwa believes that the national resources should be protected by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
It has been an open secret in Zimbabwe for many years that Emmerson Mnangagwa would like to succeed Robert Mugabe as president.
His rise to power began as a young man, when he helped direct Zimbabwe's 1970s war of independence and later became the country's spy-master during the 1980s civil conflict. He worked closely with Dan Stannard , who was one of the few whites who remained in the Zimbabwean secret service, CIO, after the departure of Ken Flower.
On 17 December 2004, he lost his post as Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration and was instead named Secretary for Legal Affairs, in what was considered a demotion. As Secretary for Administration he had been able to place his supporters in key party positions. The move followed reports that Mnangagwa had been campaigning too hard for the post of vice-president, backed by his close ally, former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo. Mugabe sacked Moyo from both his party and government posts. The President has instead reportedly become alarmed at the activities of Joyce Mujuru, who got the vice-president's job, and her powerful husband, former army chief Solomon Mujuru.
2007 Zimbabwean coup d'état attempt
The Zimbabwean government foiled an alleged coup d'état attempt involving almost 400 soldiers and high-ranking members of the military that would have occurred on 2 or 15 June 2007. The alleged leaders of the coup, all of whom have been arrested and charged with treason, are retired army Captain Albert Matapo, spokesman for the Zimbabwe National Army Ben Ncube, Major General Engelbert Rugeje, and Air Vice Marshal Elson Moyo.
According to the government the soldiers planned on forcibly removing President Robert Mugabe from office and asking Rural Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to form a government with the heads of the armed forces. The government first heard of the plot when a former army officer who opposed the coup contacted the police in Paris, France, giving them a map and a list of those involved. Mnangagwa and State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa both said they did not know about the plot, Mnangagwa calling it "stupid".
Some analysts have speculated that rival successors to Mugabe, such as former Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army leader Solomon Mujuru, may be trying to discredit Mnangagwa.
- Cris Chinaka, "Zimbabwe Elects New Speaker", The Moscow Times, 20 July 2000.
- "MP's sworn in, new ministers appointed", SADOCC, 16 April 2005.
- IV. Background, “Bullets for Each of You”: State-Sponsored Violence since Zimbabwe’s March 29 Elections. Human Rights Watch. June 2008. ISBN 1-56432-324-2
- Constantine Chimakure, "Mugabe fires Moyo", Zimbabwe Daily Mirror (zimbabwesituation.com), 18 December 2004.
- Lebo Nkatazo, "After 2 defeats, Mnangagwa opts for rural constituency", Newzimbabwe.com, 5 February 2008.
- "Final report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo" United Nations, UN Doc: S/2002/1146, 16 October 2002
- "Zimbabwe election results 2008", newzimbabwe.com, 1 April 2008.
- "Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa Running Zanu PF Campaign", Zimbabwe Independent (allAfrica.com), 8 May 2008.
- MacDonald Dzirutwe, "Zimbabwe's MDC says senior official arrested", Reuters, 13 February 2009.
- "President Mugabe Appoints New Cabinet", The Herald, 10 September 2013.
- "IBDC hails President", The Sunday Mail, 11 August 2013
- " ZDF & Indigenization Intertwined"