Talking about Zimbabwean leaders who took part in the liberation of the country, President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is the last man standing, a political analyst has said.

Prominent political commentator, Elder Mabhunu says President Mnangagwa stands tall and fits well in crop of Zimbabwe’s founding fathers.

Having been a young turk then, according to the commentator, Mnangagwa was late former President Robert Mugabe’s understudy, learning direct from the Igwe.

“Zanu PF, or Zimbabwe will never find a strong leader who participated in the liberation struggle, after Mnangagwa, because he is the last of the crop,” he says.

Mabhunu says most of Zanu PF leaders who were key pillars of the liberation struggle are all late, save for Mnangagwa who was the youngest then.

“Him being the youngest at the time, means he is now the most senior leader available and therefore the last man standing.

“Most of those who are now ruling along with Mnangagwa were latecomers or Mafikizolos,” he says.

Another analyst, Phelimon Jecha, concurs: “Ndiye aive mufana, aitumwa mwura na ana Mugabe, Chitepo, Tongogara and other seniors at the time.

“Now he is the most senior. Sadly I foresee Zanu PF lacking a strong leader who will be able to hold it together after Mnangagwa.”

In 1963, soon after modern Zimbabwe’s ruling party ZANU-PF was formed, Mnangagwa was part of the first group of young party leaders sent to China for military training.

Upon his return, he earned a nickname “Ngwena” by leading a group of fighters called the Crocodile Gang during the country’s war of independence against Rhodesia’s white-minority rule.

Mnangagwa’s gang blew up several trains. He was arrested in 1965 and sentenced to death. He escaped that fate because his lawyers successfully argued that he was under 21 and hence underage for the hangman’s noose.

But he was brutally tortured and spent 10 years in jail, where he met and befriended his boss to be Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa was released after serving his sentence and deported to Zambia, where he studied law.

He kept in close contact with Mugabe and was elected special assistant to Mugabe in 1977, becoming head of both the civil and military divisions of ZANU-PF.

After Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980 and Mugabe became prime minister, Mnangagwa was named the country’s first minister of national security.

Mugabe changed the constitution and became president in 1987. From 1988 to 2000, Mnangagwa served as minister of justice, legal and paramilitary affairs, leader of the House and in several other positions for short terms.

When Mnangagwa lost a parliamentary election in 2000, Mugabe appointed him to one of the unelected seats in parliament, and he was then elected speaker.

In 2004 the Tsholotsho Declaration, a clandestine meeting organised by a faction loyal Mnangagwa to plot Zanu-PF’s succession.

The plot’s objective was to have Mnangagwa elevated the vice presidency ahead of Joice Mujuru, succeeding the late Simon Muzenda.

A group led by six Zanu PF provincial chairmen, some members of the politburo, central committee, MPs, veterans of the war of liberation met at Dinyane Secondary School in Tsholotsho where an agreement was allegedly struck to install Mnangagwa in the presidium following the death of Simon Muzenda.

Under the scheme, Mnangagwa would assume the vice-presidency and eventually the leadership of Zanu PF and the country. The meeting was held ahead of a key Zanu PF congress in 2004.

Although Mnangagwa had secured the support of six of the country’s 10 provinces, he was undone by Mugabe’s move to amend the party’s constitution to ensure that one of the party’s vice-presidents was a woman.

The decision saw Joice Mujuru being appointed vice-president.

The declaration participants:
Jonathan Moyo was viewed as a key player in the declaration. Other high profile Zanu-PF members who were alleged to be part of the plot are Jacob Mudenda, Mabel Chinomona, Mike Madiro, Daniel Shumba and July Moyo.

Effects Of The Declaration
Participants in the declaration were suspended from the party with the exception of Mnangagwa (who did not attend the meeting) he was appointed the Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities.

Apparently, in 2008, Mnangagwa was credited with masterminding Mugabe’s presidential campaign. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round of the election.

Hundreds of opposition supporters were killed in a campaign of violence blamed on the military and state security organizations.

Tsvangirai pulled out of the second round of elections. Mugabe was re-elected, and Mnangagwa became defense minister.

After Mugabe won another presidential term in 2013, Mnangagwa was appointed vice president.

On November 6, Mugabe fired Mnangagwa and accused him of plotting to take power, including through witchcraft. Mnangagwa fled the country, saying he and his family had been threatened.

Since then, more than 100 senior officials allegedly supporting him have been listed for disciplinary measures by a faction associated with Mugabe’s wife, Grace.

The firing was seen as a move to enable Grace Mugabe to eventually succeed her 93-year-old husband.

In November 2017, Mnangagwa succeeded aged Mugabe through a military coup led by the then army general, now vice president Constantino Chiwenga.