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New narrative on how Mnangagwa got into power

Zimbabwe politics, especially the rise of Emmerson Mnangagwa, continues to intrigue watchers. One such political watcher, South African journalist Allister Sparks, says Mnangagwa used First Lady Grace Mugabe to get into power because her husband President Robert Mugabe was so afraid of Mnangagwa that he was not sure he would look after his family when he was gone. Sparks describes Mnangagwa as “a tough man, so ruthless that even Mugabe himself has feared him — who I believe will use his toughness to revive Zimbabwe and bring it back to economic health, though maybe not as a democracy”. In an article in Business Day today, Sparks says Mnangagwa paved his path by ensuring that Grace was accommodated to assure the nonagenarian leader. The Chinese also played a hand, he claims. When Zimbabwe went to China to look for a financial bail-out, Sparks says, they gave Mugabe three conditions: “First, he had to sort out the succession issue. They were not going to commit money to a country without knowing who was going to be running it in a few years’ time. Second, Mugabe had to fix his relationship with the international community. The Chinese in effect told him: we can’t be your only friends in the world. Third, he had to put Zimbabwe’s economy back on track by lifting disincentives to foreign investment…… The Chinese told him they were not prepared to invest in a failed state.  What they didn’t say outright, but which Mugabe and all other Zimbabweans know, is that Mnangagwa has long been China’s man in Zimbabwe. Those three requirements, I reckon, are enough to turn Zimbabwe’s fortunes around within the next two years.”

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