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  1. ITV Report

Emmerson Mnangagwa: Who is the man taking over from Robert Mugabe?

Mr Mnangagwa has been a leading government figure since Zimbabwe's independence Credit: AP

Robert Mugabe's deputy and former enforcer Emmerson "the crocodile" Mnangagwa has taken over at the top of Zimbabwean politics.

It was Mr Mugabe's decision to dismiss his longtime ally Mr Mnangagwa as vice-president - in a move seemingly clearing the way for his wife Grace Mugabe to become his successor - that proved to be his political downfall.

Now Mr Mnangagwa has been sworn-in as president after being voted in as the head of the ruling ZANU-PF party in place of Mr Mugabe.

So who is the man who has masterminded such a remarkable turn of events?

Mr Mnangagwa has been a leading government figure since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980.

He became vice president in 2014 but was dismissed at the start of November, with Mr Mugabe claiming he was scheming against him.

Mr Mnangagwa was for years Mr Mugabe's enforcer Credit: AP

Among Zimbabweans, Mr Mnangagwa is more feared than popular, but he has strategically fostered a loyal support base within the military and security forces.

Mr Mnangagwa joined the fight against white minority rule in Zimbabwe - then known as Rhodesia - as a teenager in the 1960s.

In 1963, he received military training in Egypt and China.

As one of the earliest guerrilla fighters against Ian Smith's government he was captured, tortured and convicted of blowing up a locomotive in 1965.

Sentenced to death by hanging, he was found to be under 21, and his punishment was commuted to 10 years and he found himself in prison with other prominent nationalists, including Mr Mugabe.

While imprisoned, Mr Mnangagwa studied through a correspondence school and after his release in 1975, he went to Zambia, where he became a practicing lawyer.

Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa were political rivals. Credit: PA

Soon he went to newly independent Marxist Mozambique, where he became Mr Mugabe's assistant and bodyguard.

In 1979, he accompanied Mr Mugabe to the Lancaster House talks in London that led to the end of Rhodesia and the birth of Zimbabwe.

As Mr Mugabe aged and his health declined, a political rivalry sprang up between Mr Mnangagwa and the first lady Grace Mugabe, who were seen as the two frontrunners to replace the head of state.

After the army moved to check Mr Mugabe from installing a family dynasty, the path was cleared for Mr Mnangagwa.

With his former friend effectively under house arrest, he was elected the new leader of Zimbabwe's ruling political party ZANU-PF, replacing Mr Mugabe who has led it since 1977.

On Friday he was sworn-in as president - the country's second leader since 1980.