The embattled Zimbabwean leader said on Sunday that he was no longer going to the WEF summit in the Swiss city of Davos and would be represented by Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube.
“In light of the economic situation, I will be returning home after a highly productive week of bilateral trade and investment meetings…The first priority is to get Zimbabwe calm, stable and working again,” he wrote on Twitter.
Mnangagwa was due to travel to Davos on his way from a four-nation diplomatic offensive that saw him visit Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
The cancellation of the visit to Davos may have been necessitated by the negative publicity generated by his government’s heavy-handed response to last week’s protest called by civil society groups to protest a 150-percent fuel price hike and other economic challenges.
The government has said three people died during the unrest that broke out on January 14 but lawyers and activists say the toll was much higher and that security forces used violence and carried out mass arrests to quell the unrest.
The crackdown was contrary to Mnangagwa’s pledge to do away with his predecessor’s tactics of using brute force and intimidation to crush dissent.
Mnangagwa took over from long-time Zimbabwean ruler Robert Mugabe following a military coup in November 2017.