E.D. Mnangagwa has served in the Government of Zimbabwe since Independence on 18 April 1980, following the February 1980 elections that resulted in ZANU PF and PF ZAPU winning 77 of the 80 contested seats in Parliament. The Rhodesian Front led by Ian Smith had 20 seats reserved for whites and preserved in the constitution for ten years, as a result of the Lancaster House agreement.
His first appointment was Minister of State Security and first assignment was to support the creation of an inclusive government structure. He made the initial contacts to retain the Rhodesian command for the security structures on an interim basis, which they accepted, leading to a smooth transition to Zimbabwe. He also had several discussions with Joshua Nkomo about suitable posts in government after the late PF ZAPU leader, Father Zimbabwe, refused to accept a role as ceremonial President. Nkomo wanted to participate fully and he accepted the proposal from his counterpart, R.G. Mugabe, to be the first Minister of Home Affairs.
The other major assignment in that period, which crossed over national and party responsibilities, was the mammoth task of unifying the armies of the liberation movement (ZANLA and ZIPRA) with the Rhodesian army. For this purpose, Mnangagwa served as Chair of the military integration commission which successfully completed its assignment to build and train a unified Zimbabwe Defence Force, with support of the British Military Advisory Training Team (BMATT). This he accomplished in close collaboration with the ZANLA and ZIPRA commanders, Rex Nhongo (Solomon Mujuru) and Lookout Masuku (Mafela) respectively, and the second-in-command of the Rhodesian army, General Maclean, visiting the Assembly Points together after the ceasefire to deepen understanding of the process and deflect incidents that inevitably occurred in that period.
As time went on and the commission continued its work, people began to accept that the war was over and the three armies should integrate. The continuing peace in the country and the patriotism of the military is testimony to the success of the initiative.
The one significant breakdown that deteriorated into conflict in the early 1980s in Matabeleland and Midlands after some cadres left the national army, was escalated by the involvement of a South African trained and supplied pseudo-force that cached weapons along the Botswana border. South Africa was still under apartheid and its mission was the economic and military destabilization of neighbouring countries to prevent access by the African National Congress of South Africa and its liberation forces, Mkhonto weSizwe, and this resulted in civilian deaths in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere in the region. The role of the security sector was the collection of intelligence to prove and deflect the involvement of South Africa in the country.
E.D. Mnangagwa has had a well-rounded career in government, serving as the first Minister of State Security post-Independence (1980-1988), and later as Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs (1989-2000) as well as Leader of Government Business in the House; Acting Minister of Finance (1995-1996); Speaker of the House of Assembly (2000-2005); Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities (2005-2009); Minister of Defence (2009-2013); and First Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe (since 2014).
As Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, his task was to continue to repeal and replace the discriminatory Rhodesian laws. He was Speaker of the House of Assembly during the land reform program that resulted in redistribution of land that had been seized from its inhabitants during the previous 100 years, and as Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities, his job was to review and expand the housing and other facilities available to the new tillers of the land.
With responsibility for legal affairs in the party from 2004-2014, he was active in guiding the development of the new Constitution, and as Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs (2013-2014) he was responsible for operationalizing the new Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe through the passage of various legal instruments by Parliament, as Leader of Government Business in the House.
As Vice President, he continued to have this responsibility, as well as guiding economic recovery through active oversight of the successful program of Command Agriculture, which produced a bumper harvest of maize in the 2017 season and is being extended to other crops. With responsibility for the economic cluster, he worked hard to attract investment, especially for the manufacturing sector. As Vice President, he continued to have this responsibility, as well as the task of guiding economic recovery through the supervision of clusters of economic ministries including those responsible for Food Security and Nutrition.
This cluster has oversight of the successful program of Command Agriculture, which produced a bumper harvest of maize in the 2017 season and is now being extended to other crops such as wheat and soya beans, and well as Command Livestock. This innovative program provides inputs, including tillage, to farmers through an agricultural loan system in which they pay back by pledging a portion of their crop.
He started a new chapter of service to the people and the country when he became the second Executive President of the Republic of Zimbabwe on 24 November 2017. In a statement after his election as the President and First Secretary of ZANU PF, he said, “I pledge to be your servant.”