Mnangagwa is not the cartoon dictator of the past. He is savvier and knows how to play the international game. He has pledged to hold “free and fair” elections by late August and to revive a failed economy. A slick public relations and aggressive social media campaign have led to sympathetic press coverage and a warm reception in Davos. Mnangagwa is hoping to attract investors and convince the United States and others to lift targeted sanctions on him and his allies for past human rights abuses. Mnangagwa is also pushing hard for the World Bank to help to repay its massive debts and secure new loans.
Yet it’s far too soon to embrace the junta or to bail it out.