They say there are many ways of killing a cat. But for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has survived several attempts on his life in different formats, the old cliche does not ring true.
Instead, he has had the proverbial nine lives of a cat after cheating death many times in assassination plots targeted at him.
On Saturday, he survived yet another assassination plot on him for the umpteenth time after a suspected grenade thrown on his way “missed him by inches” at White City Stadium where he was addressing a campaign rally.
Mnangagwa was unscathed, but his Vice-President Kembo Mohadi suffered a leg injury and another VP, Constantino Chiwenga’s wife Marry was also injured.
Other senior government officials that were injured in the melee were Zanu PF chairperson Oppah Muchinguri and party commissar Engelbert Rugeje.
Forty-nine people were injured in the blast while others lost leg and limp in the blast. Two of the victims died early this week.
Mnangagwa said the “usual enemies” and “defeatists” that have made previous attempts on his life were responsible.
“I do not think the people of Bulawayo are responsible but people outside Bulawayo, I can assure you, these are my usual enemies and they attempted so many times. This is not the first time, I am used to this. They tried poisoning me, I survived, there were six break-ins at my office, all these I have been surviving. It is just an element of defeatists in the struggle for our freedom, independence and democracy. It exploded a few inches from me, but I survived. It is not yet my time those who have done it are likely to go before me,” Mnangagwa said in an interview soon after the blast when he was whisked away.
This is just but one of the latest of several attempts on Mnangagwa’s life. Below is the timeline of events where Mnangagwa cheated death.
1965: Survives hangman’s noose
During the liberation struggle, Mnangagwa was part of the “Crocodile gang” — where he gained his nickname “the Crocodile” — that bombed a train in Masvingo in acts of sabotage to force the Rhodesian government to give in to demands by the black nationalists.
They were sentenced to death but Mnangagwa survived the guillotine on an age technicality. He was then under 18 and the rest of his crocodile gang died while he is the only surviving member.
Even during the war, those close to him say he is gifted in sensing danger and bombings would happen immediately after he left.
October 2014-survives car crash
While still Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Mnangagwa escaped death by a whisker after his Mercedes Benz was rammed into by a minibus from a local hospital in the evening near the United States embassy along Herbert Chitepo Avenue in Harare. He was driving himself when the accident happened.
December 2014: Cyanide poisoning in his offices
While Vice-President-designate, Mnangagwa survived another assassination plot when his Zanu PF Headquarters offices were broken into during the night and cyanide was sprinkled on his desk. His secretary Catherine Magaya, was the first to get into the office and inhaled the gas and was hospitalised in the intensive care unit.
Six break-ins at his offices
As Vice-President and Justice minister, there were six suspicious break-ins at his government offices that left some thinking it was an inside job.
Then Information minister, Christopher Mushohwe, told the media in January 13, 2016, that government was worried by the “relentless break-ins” at Mnangagwa’s offices.
“This is the sixth time that this kind of break-in has happened …we are concerned. Especially with this one because you can see the holes that they drilled and pulled the ceiling from the roof and used the hole as an entrance. We do not know what they wanted here or what they have done or taken from the office because experts are yet to do thorough investigations,” Mushohwe said then.
However, the results of the investigations have never been made public. No arrests have been made up till now.
August 11 2017: poisoning
While still VP, Mnangagwa was airlifted from a youth interface rally at Pelandaba Stadium in Gwanda after he started vomiting after being poisoned by a suspected hard metal arsenic toxin. He ended up admitted to a South African hospital, but survived the plot.
He later disclosed that he knew the culprits.
“I suspect as to who did it. They are still good friends of mine. I now suspect that they know that I know. It was called a hard metal arsenic toxin. That is the class of poison. And it is not easy to come with it. They say it is colourless, tasteless and the areas where it could be found are possibly two. Three initially, professors in that area eliminated this one and it was left with two countries. Russia and Israel. So it is possible it came from Russia,” Mnangagwa said in an interview with the Financial Times in Harare on January 16 this year.
The poisoning led to a fall-out with then President Robert Mugabe, who fired Mnangagwa after his loyalists booed Mugabe’s wife Grace at the same venue — White City Stadium in the last “youth interface rallies”.
After being fired on November 6 2017, Mnangagwa said he was tipped-off by friendly intelligence officials of another plot to kill him by hired snipers and he skipped the country through the porous Forbes border post in Mutare overnight through a landmine-infested route.
This was after border control officials denied him exit through the legal route. They also cocked their guns when he left the border, but spared him after an alleged scuffle between the gunman and one of his sons.
Mnangagwa made public his ‘great escape’
“I was fired at 4pm and left the office and by 6:30pm, one of the security guys came to inform me that he must be part of a group that had a mission to eliminate me altogether. I did not think it was pleasurable to wait and get eliminated.
“I left within four hours of being fired for the Mozambican border. I arrived at the border and our side of the border, stamped my passport, but before they could lift the boom for me to cross into Mozambique, it was closed. The message came that I was not allowed to leave Zimbabwe. I said in that case there was no need, I will get back. They said again that I was not allowed to go back to Zimbabwe but I said you cannot stop me. What case have I committed.
“As I was walking away, they tried to fire at me but I have one young man, one of my twin sons, was there. He is an officer and was able to grab the weapon and I was not shot,” Mnangagwa said while on a visit to Luanda, Angola in January 12 this year.
Like a sphinx, he keeps on rising. Every attempt at his life ends just like that-phew, what a close shave!
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