PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has claimed that his role in leading the Zimbabwean military operation that led to the ouster of DR Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in the 1990s helped improve his chances of later on succeeding Robert Mugabe.
Mnangagwa replaced Mugabe in November 2017 in military coup that was supported even by the main opposition MDC, some 18 years after the Congolese war which is widely called Africa’s World War.
Mnangagwa reveals his rise in Zanu-PF politics in his biography launched week on Thursday, titled A Life Of Sacrifice. It was edited by businesswoman and musician Rachel Jambaya, who is also known as Rachel J.
In the 154-page book, which was authored by Eddie Cross, a former high-ranking official in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Mnangagwa makes it clear that he had always wanted to be Minister of Defense as a stepping stone to the Presidency, but was blocked several times by tribalists in Zanu-PF.
Mnangagwa has in the past served as State Security minister, Justice Minister, Minister of State for Rural Housing and Social Amenities and Finance Minister. He said tribal political dynamics in the ruling party were played out in the 1990s when Zezuru politicians influenced the then President Robert Mugabe from appointing him Defence Minister.
Mnangagwa, who hails from the Midlands province, is Karanga while Mugabe was Zezuru. Solomon Mujuru, the late army general, saw Mnangagwa as a threat to his wife’s ascendancy as vice-president. Joice Mujuru, who was appointed Mugabe’s deputy after a series of plots and counterplots, was later succeeded by Mnangagwa after her fallout with Mugabe’s wife Grace.
“During the period of his life, Emmerson found himself partially marginalised as a Karanga political figure,” the book reads.
“He had ambitions to become the Minister of Defence after his years in security and intelligence, but powerful Zezuru elements in Zanu-PF opposed this and insisted that he play a lesser role.
“It is significant that his predecessor as Minister of Justice was another Karanga leader, Eddison Zvobgo who was also an exceptional intellect and with legal training. Both men were recognised at the time as potential national leaders — and this was not welcome in the dominant Zezuru quarters.”
The book further notes that despite facing resistance from hawkish Zezuru politicians, Mugabe — who for more than four decades was Mnangagwa’s mentor before turning into a tormentor just before the 2017 coup — assigned Mnangagwa to be in charge of a 1990s Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) military operation that ousted Mobutu Sese Seko.
“What was fascinating about this operation was that President Mugabe did not put his Minister of Defence or Security in charge, he turned to his Minister of Justice. This was testimony to his confidence in Emmerson Mnangagwa and his abilities as an organiser and strong man,” the book reads.
According to the biography, Mugabe deployed 10 000 troops “with all their equipment and the air force and heavy arms, to support the campaign by Laurent-Desire Kabila to take power from the long-standing dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.”
“But the Congolese war did more than establish his reputation as an effective Minister. It established him as the man most likely to succeed Mr Mugabe as President when he finally stepped down,” the book reads.
“In the highly charged atmosphere in Zimbabwe and the polarised character of its ethnically driven politics, this was both an advantage and a threat.
“After this experience, he became a target not only for President Mugabe’s paranoia but also for other leaders with similar aspirations. It would result in an 18-year struggle to secure the Presidency of his homeland.”
In the late 1990s, the new Rwandan regime crossed into DR Congo (then called Zaire) and attacked refugees, slaughtering upwards of 400,000 people. The Rwandan forces then turned on Zaire’s despotic dictator Mobutu and, with the help of a number of allied African countries, and overthrew him.
But the collapse of the Mobutu regime and the ascension of the corrupt and erratic Laurent-Désiré Kabila created a power vacuum that drew Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and other African nations into an extended and chaotic war. – via NewsHawks. Additional reporting by HourlyHits □