“His drinking problem is worsening these days, being put down to the fact that certain white people, who include Taffs … have become friendly with Mnangagwa and have spoiled him with gifts of whisky. It is now party after party for Mnangagwa and his friends because he is provided with free whisky, supplied without any hitches and in great quantity.”
Mnangagwa and the information ministry did not comment.
One of the vice-president’s allies, Christopher Mutsvangwa, rejected the reports about Mnangagwa’s alcohol consumption.
Mutsvangwa told Reuters that Mnangagwa is “never a heavy drinker. Indeed, he is very disciplined about taking alcohol … I have hardly seen him drinking in recent times.”
In an email, Taffs, the former head of the farmers association, told Reuters: “I have met the VP (Mnangagwa) on numerous occasions in my past capacity as president of the CFU, but have never had drinks with him, neither have I ever given him whisky or any other gift.”
Taffs rejected claims in the documents about plans for a unity government.
“I have never been involved in any plans or discussions for the formation of an unelected coalition government.”
The problem for Mnangagwa is that, if he ran for president, it is unlikely he could win an election in his own right, according to political analysts.
He holds impeccable credentials from the struggle for liberation, having fought alongside Mugabe against the loathed white-minority government of what was then Rhodesia.
However, his reputation suffered in the early 1980s, when Zimbabwe’s army brutally suppressed dissent, mainly in the western province of Matabeleland North.
In the so-called Gukurahundi crackdown, the army’s North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade killed an estimated 20,000 people, most of them from the minority Ndebele tribe.
Mnangagwa was state security minister at the time.
He has denied any involvement in the massacres, and did not offer fresh comment; but in the eyes of many voters he is still too tarnished to be electable.
Mnangagwa failed to win a seat in parliamentary elections in 2000 and 2005, but was appointed by Mugabe to unelected seats and became parliamentary speaker in 2000.
He has served as vice-president since 2014.
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