The appointment Wednesday of Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa by President Mugabe to be one of his two deputies is seen as partial fulfilment of the minister’s enduring dream of landing the top job when his master is gone.
Barring any curveball developments, Mnangagwa, a shrewd contriver looks set to succeeding Mugabe, who turns 91 in February. His admirers and critics are already visualizing a Mnangagwa presidency, wondering how it would compare to that of Mr. Mugabe.
Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira spoke to Mnangagwa about his new task, his reported feud with Mujuru and other issues. Below is the full transcript.
SN: Mr. Mnangagwa what’s your reaction to your appointment as one of the country’s Vice Presidents?
EM: Well, happy but with humility. The task is onerous and I have to fulfil the aspirations of our people and expectations of my party.
SN: So much has been happening prior to this appointment in terms of factionalism and lately alleged threats to your life. Do you have anything to say about that?
EM: Threats to my life are normal. I’ve had these throughout my 52 years of political life. They have become part of my life.
SN: Many people may want to know who really is Mr. Mnangagwa?
EM: He is a villager from Zvishavane, brought up by the revolution and continues to serve his country as a revolutionary.
SN: The burning issue for most Zimbabweans is the state of the economy. What is your role going to be in terms of improving the economy?
EM: Governance is never an individual effort. Governance is a collective effort; I will continue to contribute in the collective aspect of our governance.
SN: What would you say tops the list of things you would want to address first as Vice President of Zimbabwe?
EM: It’s to assist my president in the implementation of ZimAsset because that addresses the needs and aspirations of our people across the board.
SN: Over the years there have been reports pitting you against former Vice president Joice Mujuru as rivals fighting to succeed President Mugabe. What’s your relationship with Mrs Mujuru like?
EM: Comrade Mujuru and myself are really colleagues, armed struggle colleagues and comrades and there is nothing of any enmity between me and her. You can also interview her; she will tell you the same.
SN: So what was the source of those reports pitting you against each other?
EM: It’s a creation of the media.
SN: The President will be creating a new team that you will be leading and working with him to address the issues affecting Zimbabwean. Would you have any role to play in terms of whom you want to work with in taking Zimbabwe to that next level?
EM: Obviously yes, I think it is the vision of our leader the president that he must put up a new team; there is now a new team on the party side. He also announced yesterday that he is going to have a new team in government but I would believe that his vision and intention is to continuously make sure he has a team that can deliver. And I feel honored to be part of that team.
SN: Emmerson Mnangagwa the person has remained largely an enigma, some people even fear him while others love him. For those who fear you and all other Zimbabweans who don’t know you what is your message to them?
EM: I believe that those who fear me are not honest people, they are afraid of relating to an honest person and those who love me know that my life is a straight one, an open book.
SN: The name Ngwena; the source? What does it mean?
EM: I think this came about in 1964 during the Crocodile Group. I was among that group and I am the only survivor, I think it comes from there. Other people may have varying interpretations.
SN: For a young Zimbabwean who doesn’t know, what was the Crocodile group?
EM: It was the first trained group of comrades when we came from China after graduation.
SN: It's been a pleasure talking to your Mr. Mnangagwa. Thank you for your time.
EM: My pleasure.