Mnangagwa, 75, is a notorious and much-feared figure in Zimbabwe, having led a vicious crackdown on opponents in the 1980s with the help of the dreaded North Korean-trained Fifth Army brigade.
Thousands of civilians were killed during the Gukurahundi campaign, but Mnangagwa has always denied involvement.
His reputation for cruelty is so legendary that he was one of the few leaders of Zimbabwe known to drive around the country without security.
He is also known for his unpredictable darting eyes.
He has had a long and varied political career, leading at one point the justice, defence, housing and finance ministries as well as being the speaker of the lower house and a spymaster.
Mnangagwa was widely viewed as Mugabe's successor until he was ditched by the president last week and fled to South Africa.
Mugabe had accused his former deputy of plotting to take power from him, while his ambitious wife Grace referred to him as a snake that 'must be hit on the head' after the two clashed.
Last month she warned of a possible coup being orchestrated by Vice President Mnangagwa amid a heated power struggle.
She claimed his allies were threatening to kill people who did not support his bid to succeed Mugabe.
Grace recently told supporters: 'In 1980 this person called Mnangagwa wanted to stage a coup. He wanted to wrestle power from the president.
'He was conspiring with whites. That man is a ravisher.'
Culled from Mailonline