The image that most Africans across the continent have of Zimbabwean President Emerson Mnangagwa is that of the mean-looking ruthless operator nicknamed “The crocodile” who was able to dispose off the feared dictator, Robert Mugabe.
Yesterday, however, Tanzanians in particular, and Africans at large, were treated to a side of him that perhaps few knew existed.
Mnangagwa was among the numerous Southern Africa presidents who attended the requiem mass for the departed Tanzanian president, Pombe Maghufuli, alongside the presidents of South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia.
The Zimbabwean President began by paying his respects to the fallen president and narrating how, when he paid a visit to Tanzania, the late president afforded him a visit to Bagamoyo, a place he had expressed interest in. When he finally had the chance to visit it, he was elated and even gave a 60 thousand dollar donation.
In his speech, he also shared a hilarious encounter he once had with Maghufuli.
It was during the calamity that struck his country, which was the cyclone Idai back in 2019 that, in the middle of the night, and also in the middle of his distress, he was told that he had a phone call. When he inquired who it was that was calling him and he was told it was Maghufuli, he agreed to receive the call.
Maghufuli sent his condolences to him on the calamity that had befallen them, then asked him what kind of assistance they would need.
President Mnangagwa said that he told him of the essentials they needed. He told him they needed food, water, medicine and mosquitoes.
The last request took Maghufuli aback, and he asked for a clarification, astounded, ”’What do you mean you need mosquitoes? How?”
This was when Mnangagwa, who was still dazed by the cyclone Idai which had ravaged his country and wasn’t thinking straight, corrected himself, ”Am sorry. I meant to say mosquito nets. We shall need mosquito nets, not mosquitoes”
The next day, two fully packed planes from Tanzania arrived in Zimbabwe.