With considerable trepidation, I took the lift to the sixth floor of the ministry of justice in central Harare to interview the minister. It wasn’t just that I lacked the accreditation foreign journalists must obtain to work in Zimbabwe – the interview had been ar-ranged through unofficial back channels. The minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, also happens to be the vice-president, Robert Mugabe’s notoriously brutal chief enforcer for the past 36 years, and the most feared man in the country. “They don’t call him ‘The Crocodile’ for nothing,” said a Zim-babwean businessman who knows him well. “He never says a word but suddenly he bites. He’s very dangerous.”But Mnangagwa, still powerfully built at 74, proved courteous enough as we sat in deep leather armchairs in his bright and spa-cious office. It was not in his interest to be hostile – not at this time. He is determined to succeed Mugabe and he will need West-ern support to rebuild his shattered country if he does, which is presumably why he gave me an almost unprecedented interview.
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