Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is a prominent Zimbabwean politician who has played a significant role in the country's history and politics. Born on 15 September 1942 in Shabani (now Zvishavane), Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Mnangagwa hails from a politically active family of farmers and is of Karanga ethnicity, a subgroup of the Shona ethnic group.
His early life was shaped by his family's involvement in farming and politics, as his father, Mafidhi, was an acting chief in their village. Mnangagwa had the opportunity to observe traditional court proceedings in his local chief's court, which sparked his early interest in politics. His paternal grandfather, Mubengo Kushanduka, who served in the court of the Ndebele king Lobengula and fought in the Second Matabele War, had a significant influence on him during his formative years.
Mnangagwa's educational journey started at Lundi Primary School in Shabani, and he later attended Myooye School in Mumbwa. He completed his primary education at Mumbwa Boarding School, where he developed an interest in political activism, which sometimes turned violent. In 1958, he attended Kafue Trade School, where he took a building course. He left Kafue early and enrolled in Hodgson Technical College, focusing on a City and Guilds Industrial Building program.
Mnangagwa's involvement in student anti-colonial politics led to his expulsion from Hodgson Technical College for setting a building on fire. He then became active in organizing and expanding the United National Independence Party (UNIP) in Bancroft, Copperbelt Province, under the direction of UNIP leaders.
In 1962, Mnangagwa was recruited to join the newly formed pro-independence party, the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), in Northern Rhodesia. He became a guerrilla fighter for ZAPU's armed wing, the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA), and underwent training in Tanzania. In 1963, he, along with others, switched allegiance to the breakaway group, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), under Robert Mugabe's leadership. Mnangagwa underwent further training in Egypt before eventually becoming a member of the militant wing, the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA).
Mnangagwa played a significant role in the Crocodile Gang, a ZANLA guerrilla unit that operated in the mid-1960s. The group's activities included smuggling weapons into Rhodesia, recruitment, and violent actions aimed at gaining attention for ZANU.
After Zimbabwe gained independence, Mnangagwa held various senior cabinet positions, including Minister of State for National Security, where he oversaw the Central Intelligence Organisation. He also chaired the Joint Operations Command, responsible for integrating ZANLA and ZIPRA fighters with former Rhodesian security forces. Mnangagwa was actively involved in Zimbabwe's politics, holding positions as Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Speaker of the Parliament, and Minister of Defence.
Mnangagwa's political career had its ups and downs, with allegations and controversies surrounding his involvement in various activities, including the Gukurahundi massacres, the Second Congo War, and Operation Murambatsvina.
In 2014, Mnangagwa was appointed First Vice-President of Zimbabwe, positioning him as the likely successor to President Robert Mugabe. However, tensions between Mnangagwa and Grace Mugabe, the wife of President Mugabe, led to his dismissal in 2017.
The events that followed, including a military intervention and Mugabe's resignation, eventually led to Mnangagwa's inauguration as President of Zimbabwe on 24 November 2017. Since taking office, he has focused on rebuilding the economy, international relations, and implementing various policies.
Mnangagwa has been married twice and has nine children. His first wife, Jayne Matarise, whom he married in 1973, passed away in 2002. He later married Auxillia Kutyauripo, and the couple has several children together. His personal life has also been intertwined with his political career, as some of his family members have held political positions in Zimbabwe.
DATE OF BIRTH: 15th September 1942
TIME OF BIRTH:
PLACE OF BIRTH: Shabani (now Zvishavane), Zimbabwe