All eyes on Zimbabwe's new leader Mnangagwa at WEF in Davos

2018-01-24 08:31
Emmerson Mnangagwa. (File: AP)

Emmerson Mnangagwa. (File: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

He deposed longtime ruler Robert Mugabe, who was the world's oldest leader until the military intervened in November last year.

Mnangagwa says he's in Switzerland to hear from world leaders and potential investors what they want Zimbabwe to do to convince them the country is ready to re-engage with the international community.

Back in Zimbabwe, there are mixed feelings about Mnangagwa's first trip abroad.

Hope and optimism

After nearly 20 years of economic stagnation, company closures and job losses, Zimbabwe is now one of the world's worst performing economies. There is a shortage of foreign currency, rising food prices, and high unemployment.

We went to Glenview - a low-income neighbourhood in Harare. Many say they used to have jobs in factories before the stagnant economy shut those down. They try to eke out a living making furniture.  

Carpenter Brighton Dingembira wants the international community to end Zimbabwe's international isolation.

"Robert Mugabe has gone. They should give Mnangagwa a chance," he says. "There is no way we can survive without the relationship with the international community."


But Mnangagwa has baggage. He stood by Mugabe's side during the seizure of land from white farmers, alleged human rights abuses, and the collapse of a once-vibrant economy.

He is known as "the Crocodile". Critics say he is shrewd and calculating. An opposition supporter said, "It's still the same ruling Zanu-PF party. The driver has changed, but it's still the same bus."

Mnangagwa is trying to cleanse his image both at home and abroad. But sceptics and investors want guarantees their investments will be safe. Conditions some are insisting on include compensating white farmers whose land was seized during the land reform programme, and the holding of internationally acceptable elections.

Mugabe ruins

The state owned railway company is one example of how dire Zimbabwe's economy is. The trains are old and some of the infrastructure is dilapidated. Over the years, many workers have been laid off.

After 37 years of Mugabe's rule, public hospitals have run out of basic drugs. Sometimes there is no running water. Several public schools lack resources to provide a proper education.

Economists predict it could take at least three years before there are real signs Zimbabwe's economy is on the mend.

Zimbabweans know, for now at least, Mnangagwa has international good will.

If the new president manages to charm the world in Davos this week - not only could he bring much-needed investment - he might be able to rebrand himself as the total opposite of Mugabe, who is blamed for ruining what was once called the "land of milk and honey".

Elections are in a few months. Opposition parties are currently in disarray.

If Mnangagwa returns from Davos with realistic timeframes for economic recovery, some analysts say it could improve his chances of those polls.


Read more on:    wef  |  robert mugabe  |  donald trump  |  emmerson mnangagwa  |  zimbabwe  |  switzerland  |  southern africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.