Drought, failing economy, protests, rights abuses dim Mnangagwa’s shine

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

HARARE – After two years of intensifying repression and worsening economic hardships, the euphoria that marked the end of Robert Mugabe’s 38-year hold on power is dissipating in Zimbabwe.

The late Mugabe, who ruled the southern African country since Independence in 1980, was toppled in a coup engineered by his lieutenants in 2017.

He was succeeded by long-time confidante President Emmerson Mnangagwa whose dramatic rise brought in hope of freedom for many after years of authoritarian rule.

President Mnangagwa promised to steer the country into a democracy and styled his leadership as a “new dispensation.”

“I am soft as wool,” he said at the time.

The former vice president, who was forced into brief exile during former president Mugabe’s last days in power before his triumphant return on the back of a military takeover, largely kept his promise as he finished his mentor’s term.