|Mugabe strikes secret deal to hand power to Mnangagwa||
Robert Mugabe has struck a secret "gentleman's agreement" to hand over power in Zimbabwe to his feared defense minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, sources close to the two men have revealed.
Insiders say that Mugabe, aged 88 and now in office for three decades, will stand as Zanu PF's candidate in elections one last time before handing over to Mnangagwa, a former spy chief nicknamed "The Crocodile" for his ruthless reputation.
Having another Zanu-PF strongman succeed Mugabe would help ensure that other powerful party members avoid any future scrutiny about wealth gained through illegal land seizures, and avoid possible prosecution at The Hague.
Mr. Mnangagwa, the former head of Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organization, was appointed campaign manager by Mugabe during the 2008 presidential election and was widely blamed for the brutality unleashed after his rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, edged ahead in the first round of voting.
The prospect of taking over from the ageing leader gives him a clear incentive to ensure that elections tipped for later this year go Zanu-PF's way again. Last month, Mr Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change, claimed that the army was already recruiting and training jobless Zanu PF youths "on a massive scale" for a new program of vote-fixing.
Tsvangirai, who is prime minister in a shaky coalition government with Mugabe, says he has been told by senior security officials that "anyone other than President Mugabe, even if they win an election, will not be able to take up their mandate".
Mnangagwa, 65, helped orchestrate Mugabe's battle against white rule in the 1970s, during which he was arrested and tortured by white Rhodesian policemen, rendering him deaf in one ear.
Zanu-PF colleagues say he is the one man feared even more than Mr Mugabe, a reputation he gained as CIO head during the suppression of the rival Zapu party in 1980s, in which thousands of civilians were killed and in some cases forced to dance on the freshly-dug graves of relatives.
In later years he has been seen as Zanu-PF's chief "money man", helping organize lucrative concessions linked to gold and diamond mining.
The pact between Mugabe and Mnangagwa is alleged to have taken place at State House in Harare in April 2008, after the president failed to secure an outright majority over Tsvangirai.
According to a long-serving Zanu PF minister who witnessed the meeting, the embattled Mugabe offered Mnangagwa the future presidency if he could help ensure that things went Mugabe's way in the second round.
(Source: The Daily Telegraph)
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