Mnangagwa book fetches R11m on first day

Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

A biography of Zimbabwe president Emmerson Mnangagwa released on Thursday sold copies worth US$755,700 (about R11m) on the day of release, the presidency says.

This ranks high up with the record buy of a copy of former first lady Grace Mugabe's book chronicling her life in pictures bought for $50,000 by a local prophet, Walter Magaya, in 2015.

The 130-page new book, A life of Sacrifice: Emmerson Mnangagwa, retailing at $15 per copy was written by former MDC politician, Eddie Cross, who until last year served as one of Mnangagwa’s economic advisers at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

In a tweet, presidential spokesperson George Charamba said “the books are being bought for donation to schools and colleges”.

At the launch, author Cross sought to prop up the president’s image before 2023 elections.

“The president has set the country on a new trajectory of development and has given hope to the nation,” he said.

Cross added that he met American officials in a bid to convince them to give Mnangagwa a break. “Do you (Americans) appreciate two risks which this man you sanction took in 2018? One, giving this country the freest ever election this country ever had. Two, offering himself as a candidate in that election which he won fair and square,” he said. Then, looking at Mnangagwa, he said, “You won that election Mr President.”

The book seeks to tell the life story of Mnangagwa, which in most historical contexts has been riddled with inaccuracies and disputed historical narratives.

For the first time pictures of his late parents, Mafidhi and Mhurai Mnangagwa, are made public in the book. There’s also a picture of Mnangagwa in a graduation gown after finishing a law degree at the University of Zambia.

But some who have gone through the chapters of the book dismiss it as a hagiography.

The book does not address key issues such as Gukurahundi - a dark episode in Zimbabwe’s history that claimed 20,000 civilian lives. During the Gukurahundi era, 1981-1987, Mnangagwa was state security minister under the late Robert Mugabe.

Some critics accused the book of “falsehoods and silences”, particularly on the Second Congo War (DRC) in which Mnangagwa played a central role, his alleged inflated role in the liberation struggle and silence on the death of Solomon Mujuru, the first army commander in independent Zimbabwe and late husband to the first female vice-president Joyce Mujuru.

The book also called the November 2017 coup that brought him to power a “military assisted transition”.

Since the current administration came into power through the coup and winning a disputed election, it has been books galore. Vice-president Constantino Chiwenga has published Goose or Gander: The United Nations Security Council and the Ethic of Double Standards. Zanu-PF’s secretary for administration Dr Obert Mpofu, who played a pivotal part during the coup, also published his memoirs, On the shoulders of the struggle.

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