WASHINGTON DC —
Zimbabwe’s Deputy 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 strategically positioned to succeed the 90-year-old.
Though Mr. Mugabe said Wednesday Mnangagwa will serve in a ceremonial capacity, many believe the ageing leader tapped him to solve the succession conundrum that has haunted his party for years.
Mnangagwa, 68, has served in Mugabe’s government since 1980 and is viewed as one of his most trusted lieutenants.
“I’m happy but with humility,” Mnangagwa told VOA Studio 7. “The task is onerous and I have to fulfil the aspirations of our people and the expectations of my party.”
Though he decline to talk about his presidential aspirations and prospects, Mr. Mnangagwa said he was looking forward to working with the president's new Cabinet to be announced Friday.
“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, 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 - a man of few words.
He said he’s unfazed by alleged attempts on his life, dismissing reports of animosity between him and former vice president Joice Mujuru as a creation of the media.
President Mugabe revealed on Wednesday that a cyanide attack targeting Mr. Mnangagwa at his office had instead left his secretary battling for her life. The matter is under investigation.
Mnangagwa takes over from Mrs. Mujuru, who deputized Mugabe for 10 years and until recently, was seen as the most likely successor to the ageing leader.
But her chances collapsed in the face of a blistering campaign fronted by First Lady, Grace Mugabe, accusing her of graft and plotting to unseat Mr. Mugabe.
She has vehemently denied the accusations.