Until recently, Auxillia Mnangagwa was most commonly known as the third wife of Vice President and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Emmerson Mnangagwa. But her elevation to become a Member of Parliament representing Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe constituency, a seat previously occupied by her husband of 31 years, has people asking: who is Auxillia Mnangagwa?
The parliamentary seat Auxillia Mnangagwa currently occupies fell vacant after Emmerson Mnangagwa’s elevation to the post of Vice President last year. It was then that Auxillia ran unopposed in the Zanu-PF primary elections after two other contestants pulled out of the internal race. Violet Nhare, Zanu PF provincial commissar for the Women’s League, and Erasmus Chaya, the deputy national secretary for Transport in the Youth League are reported to have withdrawn from participating out of respect for Mnangagwa. If she is as new a face to Zimbabwean politics as many think, then how come she commands such respect from her party?
Mnangagwa’s sudden elevation into parliament has left many wondering whether she has any other political credentials besides being wife to the country’s Vice –President. Mnangagwa, who is also Deputy Secretary for Environment and Tourism in the Zanu-PF Politiburo, joins Monica Mutsvangwa who is a Senator but also a spouse to another powerful Zanu-PF Poltician, Christopher Mutsvangwa.
But who is Auxilia Mnangagwa really?
Born on March 25, 1963 in Mazowe District in Mashonaland Central, Mnangagwa grew up in Chiweshe near Rosa Business Centre where she attained both primary and secondary education. After completing her secretarial studies at Silveira House in Chishawasha she joined the Ministry of Manpower and Development in 1981 which was under the supervision of the late Edgar Tekere.
In 1992, she joined the then Prime Minister’s office. It was during this period that she is reported to have worked at the Sheraton Hotel (now Rainbow Towers) as a security officer. She was with the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) until 1997 when she left to undertake her studies in Environment and Tourism at the University of Zimbabwe.
Two years after leaving the country in order to pursue her studies in Hotel and Tourism Administration in Switzerland, she graduated with a degree in 2001. Mnangagwa returned back to Zimbabwe and worked in Zanu-PF’s finance department in Kwekwe.
Although it is reported that she has been Emmerson Mnangagwa’s wife for 31 years, some sections of the media state that she was deployed as a CIO agent by President Robert Mugabe to monitor her husband’s movements. These reports also argue that she only emerged as VP Mnangagwa’s wife after the death of his wife Jayne who was also the sister of the late hero, Josiah Tongogara. However, it is no secret that Mnangagwa is the Vice President’s third wife, and together they have three children, Emmerson (Junior) Sean and Collin.
Mnangagwa’s political life is not without controversy. She is reported to have submitted her name to represent Zanu-PF in Mazowe Central where she was born, but her submission was declined by the ZANU-PF Mashonaland Central Provincial Coordinating Committee under circumstances she claims were unclear to her. However, The Herald columnist Natahaniel Maneru is reported to have written that Mnangagwa was rejected by the Mashonaland Central Provincial leadership on the grounds that she married a man from the Midlands province. Manheru also insinuated that Mnangagwa may have been barred from Mashonaland Central because it was Joice Mujuru’s stronghold and she considered Mnangagwa a threat since she is married to Emmerson Mnangawa, who was considered a rival in the Zanu-PF presidency succession race.
After winning her way back to the Central Committee in 2009, Mnangagwa played a role in setting up a community bank in Chirumanzu called the Cheese Bank. She is also reported to have worked on a number of empowerment projects on behalf of Zanu-PF in Gokwe and Mberengwa. Mnangagwa has also been instrumental in the establishment of women’s banks in the Midlands areas of Silobela, Zhombe, Kwekwe and Chirumanzu-Zibagwe. In 2013, Mnangagwa launched another women’s bank in Mvuma with the assistance of the Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development Ministry.
As the Zanu-PF Deputy Secretary for Environment and Tourism, Mnangagwa has also contributed to the launch of a historical tourism initiative in the city of Masvingo. The launch saw the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe declaring the site where VP Emmerson Mnangagwa and Matthew Malowa blew up a Rhodesian steam locomotive in 1964 at Masvingo Railway Station as a historical site. The two were members of the famous ‘Crocodile Gang’. The site has been named the “Trabablas Trail”.
Mnangagwa is part of a new crop of parliamentarians who include Psychology Mazivisa, Betty Kaseke, Tshinga Dube and Esau Mupfumi who have just won positions in the recently held by-elections. Whether this is the beginning of Mnangagwa’s climb to the top in politics is yet to be seen. She has spent a number of years behind the scenes, but her history in the party allows her to reach the same level as her counterparts Senator Monica Mutsvagwa and First Lady Grace Mugabe. Mnangagwa is definitely a woman to watch. Time will only tell how far she will go.
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