In addition to pushing reforms to attract Western capital and investors to Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa and his supporters have been striving to win the country’s July 30 elections.
Victory will give Mnangagwa, whose nickname is the Crocodile, what he seeks most – a mandate to oversee reforms to help fix Zimbabwe’s broken political and economic system.
But ghosts from the ousting of Robert Mugabe linger. Mnangagwa’s return last fall from the political dead after he had been fired as Vice President accompanied the termination of Grace Mugabe’s quest for power.
Since then, the former First Lady’s Generation 40 (G40) coalition has been purged from the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party, losing its once lucrative spoils of power.
Many of Grace Mugabe’s supporters have since attempted to disrupt the ruling party’s expected victory in the July 30 elections.
It makes sense then that Zimbabweans searching for those responsible for the June 23 attack would see potential conspirators in the angry remnants of the G40 coalition.
Indeed, Mnangagwa, who survived numerous assassination attempts as Vice President, even told the BBC on June 27 that he could assure people that “these [were] normal enemies” before pointing the finger at elements of the G40 coalition.
Nevertheless, as Zimbabwean authorities have emphasized, the attack will not postpone the crucial election.
Thus, it is likely there will be further arrests of G40 members, but the crackdown will remain largely a matter of infighting within Zimbabwe’s political elite.
The optics and outcome of Zimbabwe’s election will be far more important as to how Western governments and businesses view them – relatively free and fair or tainted – as well as influence the government’s next moves on the reform agenda.