Grace Mugabe and the ‘Crocodile’: The key players in Zimbabwe politics

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(CNN) Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old leader, his 52-year-good old wife and his veteran VP — who was simply restarted after years of devoted service — are a number of the key figures in an unfolding political crisis gripping what used to be one of Africa’s richest countries.

The sudden appearance of the military in the streets of Zimbabwe’s capital in Tuesday night in an apparent coup comes a week immediately after Robert Mugabe fired his powerful right-hand man Emmerson Mnangagwa.

As the world’s oldest president has taken care of an iron grip on the country since he led it to independence in 1980, many Zimbabwe watchers see Mugabe at perhaps his most vulnerable in decades.

Here’s a consider the key players:

President Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe has been around control of the country for nearly four decades — first seeing as Prime Minister and as President.

For the 1980s and part of the 1990s he was feted in the home and abroad, but steadily became more authoritarian and by 1993 had instituted the Land Acquisition Act permitting the government to force white farmers to give up their terrain for redistribution to black Zimbabweans.

Since that time he has presided over mass inflation and food shortages brought about by his disastrous terrain reallocation programs.

As circumstances in Zimbabwe worsened and accusations of human rights abuses escalated, organizations around the world, including the British Crown, stripped him of honors previously bestowed in him.

In July of the year Mugabe urged his ruling ZANU-PF party to make sure that his legacy remains “prolonged after” he’s “gone.”

Emmerson Mnangagwa

Former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa, known provides “Ngwenya” or perhaps the “Crocodile” to many due to his well-honed survival instincts, was with Mugabe right away. He’s been Mugabe’s right-hand man for nearly four decades, initial as his assistant during the liberation struggle, soon after as his cleverness chief, in that case cabinet minister and all-round enforcer.

Mnangagwa had previously been considered most likely to succeed Mugabe if the president stepped straight down or perhaps died while in business office.

Mnangagwa has a strong following in Zimbabwe’s powerful military and amongst battle veterans who fought in the liberation struggle, and has been a main strategist for Mugabe in past elections, says David Coltart, a past cabinet minister and opposition innovator.

But previously this month Mugabe accused Mnangagwa of “disloyalty, disrespect, deceitfulness and unreliability,” in a proceed to pave just how for his wife, Grace, to succeed him.

First Lady Grace Mugabe

Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe.

Born in South Africa, Mugabe’s second wife has developed a reputation as a good shrewd, if sometimes extravagant, politician in her own right.

Presented the moniker ” Gucci Grace ” by Zimbabweans on her behalf exorbitant shopping trips, she’s been a polarizing body in a country wracked with poverty. Not surprisingly, she has long had the support of youthful politicians in the country’s political hierarchy.

Mnangagwa’s sudden dismissal was seen by many as a way for the President to appoint his wife, Grace, to the position, prompting widespread discontent among formerly loyalist supporters.

“Grace Mugabe without Robert Mugabe won’t survive an individual day politically. But so long as Mugabe is normally there, she will do what she wants,” says Alex T. Magaisa, a lecturer at Kent University and ex – aide to ex-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Her youngest sons are regulars in the high-flying party scene in South Africa’s monetary capital, regularly making gossip headlines for his or her antics in social media.

And the prospect of a staying led by the existing first lady is an anathema to many in Zimbabwe’s old guard, who tie links to the armed have a problem with political credibility.

Minister for Security Sydney Sekeramayi

Zimbabwe’s Defence Minister Sydney Tigere Sekeramayi.

Minister for Security Sydney Sekeramayi is “thought to be a good contender for the vice presidency and is known as a dark horse in the succession drama,” Tinashe Jakwa, a good Southern Africa analyst at the African Research Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP) said.

“His elevation to the VP content would be a strategic proceed to curb perceptions of a good Mugabe dynasty.”

Gen. Constantino Chiwenga

Zimbabwe Army Basic Constantino Chiwenga, Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

The country’s army commander, Chiwenga denounced the firing of the vice president and other “members connected with our liberation history.”

On Tuesday he held a press conference in which he threatened to intervene should his political allies continue to be sidelined, warning that if the purge of senior ZANU-PF officials didn’t stop, “the military won’t hesitate to part of.”

In response to the conference, ZANU-PF, accused Chiwenga of “treasonable conduct.”

Maj. Gen. S.B. Moyo

The Army Chief of Staff became the face of the political turmoil later Tuesday when he came out on Zimbabwean condition TV to make sure citizens that their nation had not been in the throes of a coup.

“To both our people and the world beyond our borders, we desire to produce it abundantly obvious that this isn’t a military takeover of government,” he said.

“What the Zimbabwe Security Forces is doing is normally to pacify a good degenerating political, social and economic situation inside our nation, which if not addressed may lead to a violent conflict.”

In the broadcast, Moyo spoke of targeting “criminals” around the President.

Morgan Tsvangirai

Former Prime Minister and trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai entered government within a power-sharing contract from 2009-2013, where he served as chairman of the council of ministers and deputy chairman of the cabinet and also prime minister.

In the late 1990s, however, he was a trenchant opponent of Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party and organized general strikes in protest at the government’s managing of the country.

His Motion for Democratic Transformation (MDC) party was launched 2 yrs later. He campaigned under challenging, often violent conditions, was jailed for treason many times and severely beaten by Mugabe supporters on several occasions. He claimed victory in a 2008 election but pulled out, claiming it had “been marred by the widespread intimidation, torture, mutilation and murder of his supporters.”

However, after good negotiations, Mugabe and Tsvangirai signed the Global Political Agreement, which stated Tsvangirai can be prime minister and Mugabe will stay president, commander-in-chief and chairman of the cabinet. He remaining the power-sharing contract in 2013, again claiming widespread fraud in that year’s election.

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