Politicians have the same DNA, irrespective of where they come from.

Here in Nigeria, politicians become friends of the ordinary folks by even patronizing the road-side akara women when election time approaches.

That is the scenario playing out in Zimbabwe ahead of a presidential poll in July.

So, it happened that Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who happens to be one of the top contenders in the poll, queued with punters to buy fried chicken last weekend.

In scenes unthinkable last year under Mugabe, Mnangagwa’s convoy made an unscheduled stop on Sunday at a fast food outlet in the small town of Chegutu, 100 kilometres west of the capital Harare.

“He ordered a two-piecer and a minute maid (juice), paid $3.75 with $20 and told me to keep the change,” said Isabel Mtongerwa, the cashier who served Mnangagwa.

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“He is very welcoming and makes you feel comfortable in his presence.”

Mnangagwa is working hard to shed his image as Mugabe’s enforcer, engaging the public on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, something Mugabe frowned upon.

Prior to coming to power last November when Mugabe was forced to resign following a de facto military coup, Mnangagwa was secretive and insular, preferring to operate under the radar, and was known by the monicker ‘Ngwena’, a Shona word which means ‘Crocodile’.

23 candidates have registered to contest the presidential election on July 30 but Mnangagwa and 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, are the main contenders.

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