Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa wins re-election after troubled vote

Known as 'The Crocodile', Mnangagwa's fearsome reputation precedes him

Zimbabwe Elections Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa casts his vote at a polling station in Kwekwe, Zimbabwe, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023 | AP

Zimbabwe's Emmerson Mnangagwa has been elected to a second term as president with 52.6 per cent of the vote, the electoral commission said. Mnangagwa came into power in 2017 after a coup against veteran ruler Robert Mugabe. He is only the second president of Zimbabwe. 

The opposition has said there's been widespread vote-rigging, BBC reported. Zimbabweans, who live in a climate of fear still face inflation and poverty. An opposition party spokesperson said they would reject the results as "hastily assembled without proper verification."  

According to a tweet by Zimbabwe's information ministry, Mnangagwa's challenger Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party won 44 per cent of the vote. Mnangagwa's Zanu-PF party has been the dominant party in the country since it gained independence from Britain in 1980. 

Mnangagwa, known as 'The Crocodile', had promised a new start for his country's people, when he first took charge in 2017. He has been known for his ruthlessness. Chamisa's party CCC in a statement on Wednesday said, some of its candidates were omitted from the ballot papers, and on some of CCC's rolls, photos of Mnangagwa were printed. 

Apart from inflation, unemployment is also rife in Zimbabwe, only 25 per cent of citizens hold formal jobs and prices soared by 101.3 per cent since the previous year. 

Mnangagwa's fearful reputation came to being post the civil war that broke out post-independence Mugabe's Zanu party and Joshua's Nkomo's Zapu party. Mnangagwa, who was national security minister at the time, was in charge of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and worked closely with the army to suppress Zapu.

Thousands of civilians-- ethnic Ndebeles, who were viewed as Zapu supporters were killed before the two parties merged to form the Zanu-PF. 'The Crocodile' has denied any role in the killings, and later, as president, has attempted to bring up reconciliation, which eventually led to an initiative to allow exhumations and reburials.

His children reportedly see him as a principled man. The 80-year-old was born in Zvishavane. He is a Karanga - the largest clan of Zimbabwe's majority Shona community, a BBC report reads. Mnangagwa enjoys support from war veterans, who remember him as one of the men who led the fight for independence in the 1960s and 1970s.

 Mnangagwa was arrested by the white-minority government for helping to blow up a train near Fort Victoria (now Masvingo). He's said to have endured torture during the 10 years he spent in prison. 

Mnangagwa rose to power under Mugabe, first as his bodyguard during the bloody independence war in the 1970s, then as a Cabinet minister in the 1980s and 1990s, and finally as vice president before they became political enemies and he was fired by Mugabe, an AP report reads. 

Under his leadership, Zimbabwe has bolstered ties with China and Russia. Zimbabwe also reapplied to be part of the Commonwealth, after the nation's membership was suspended in 2003 due to human rights violations. 

Despite the country's progress towards joining the Commonwealth and observing elections to further democratic governance, it remains under US economic and travel sanctions and a European Union arms embargo. 

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