Zimbabwe’s Vice President, Mnangagwa, Says He Was Poisoned

Mnangagwa is the leading candidate to succeed Mugabe

Zimbabwe Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa
Zimbabwe Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Zimbabwe vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa on Thursday said he had been hospitalized in August because he had been poisoned, raising the political temperature in the fight to succeed 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa, a former intelligence chief nicknamed “the Crocodile”, is the leading candidate to succeed Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabwe has known since independence in 1980.

He did not say who he believed was responsible for trying to kill him, and his main rival for the top job, First Lady Grace Mugabe, swiftly denied having anything to do with it.

Hours earlier, she told a public gathering at a nearby hotel on Thursday night that Mnangagwa and his allies were plotting a power grab that was tantamount to a coup, according to an audio recording of her speech.

Mnangagwa was airlifted to Johannesburg after falling ill in August. At a news conference late on Thursday open only to state media, he said doctors had concluded that poisoning was to blame for his illness, and not inadvertent food poisoning.

“The medical doctors who attended to me ruled out food poisoning but confirmed that indeed poisoning had occurred and investigations were in progress,” Mnangagwa said, reading from a statement. He provided no further details or proof.

Mnangagwa, 75, became vice-president in 2014, putting him at the front of the pack to succeed Mugabe. However over the last 18 months he has met fierce opposition from Grace and a faction of the ruling party backing her.

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