PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has made it into a prestigious list of the world’s top 100 most influential people in 2018.
Mnangagwa ,who swept to power on the back on a military coup that forced long time ruler former President Robert Mugabe to resign in November last year, is one of two Africans who made it to a list that also includes US President Donald Trump.
South African comedian Trevor Noah being the other on a list with talk show host Oprah Winfrey, singer Rihanna and the UK’s Prince Harry.
Individuals or a group of people are exclusively chosen by TIME editors with nominations coming from the TIME 100 alumni and the magazine’s international writing staff. Each entrant has a short write-up written by an equally prominent individual, describing what makes them influential.
The annual list features some of the world’s most significant artists, leaders, scientists, activists and entrepreneurs.
Since seizing power Mnangagwa has gone on a global charm offensive, declaring Zimbabwe, once described as a pariah under Mugabe, “Open for Business”.
The new Zimbabwean leader has invited over 46 countries and international institutions to observe Zimbabwe’s upcoming elections a break from Mugabe’s belligerent foreign policy. Former colonial master, Britain, has said it would strongly support Zimbabwe’s re-entry to the Commonwealth and praised Mnangagwa for “impressive progress since taking office.”
Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo is currently on a global tour campaigning for the country’s return to the international family of nation after decades in the cold under Mugabe’s 37 year-rule.
But at home social activist and political upstart, Evan Mawarire, seemed to capture the mood of Mnangagwa’s critics with a blistering comment.
“In his first 100 days, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa spoke of re-engaging, forgiveness, democracy and unity. But though words matter, so does the survival of a system that destroyed the hopes and dreams of generations,” Mawarire said.
“The elation that greeted the end of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year reign naturally enough transformed into hopes for his successor.”
Mnangagwa served as Mugabe’s trusted lieutenant for close to half a century before last year’s fall-out that saw him kicked out as Vice President before a triumphant return from brief exile after a military intervention.
Added Mawarire: “For four decades, Zimbabwe’s new President was the protégé of the dictator he eventually deposed. Mnangagwa says very little of his own volition. He waits for you to speak and only responds when absolutely necessary. As Mugabe learned, he is extremely patient, choosing his moments of response or retaliation carefully. Mugabe described him as a man who does not forgive or forget very easily.
“Maybe that’s why for years, Mnangagwa has kept his liberation war nickname, the Crocodile. The undeniable paradox of Zimbabwe’s moment of healing is that the doctor was once the butcher.”
Mnangagwa is believed to have been one of the brains behind a post-independence ethnic cleansing exercise by a crack military unit that claimed the lives of over 20 000 civilians now known as Gukurahundi.