Mugabe’s cohorts kick out vice-president

Robert Mugabe eats an ice cream while his wife Grace addresses a rally. Picture: AFP/Getty
Robert Mugabe eats an ice cream while his wife Grace addresses a rally. Picture: AFP/Getty
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A POWERFUL faction of president Robert Mugabe’s party is getting ready to celebrate this weekend after pushing Zimbabwe’s vice-president Joice Mujuru out of the Zanu-PF central committee.

The sly move means the 59-year-old widow of Mr ­Mugabe’s former army general is now almost certain to lose both the vice-presidency and any possibility of succeeding the longtime Zimbabwean leader at next week’s party congress.

Analysts believe Mr Mugabe felt increasingly threatened by Ms Mujuru’s popularity within Zanu-PF.

Pedzisai Ruhanya, of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said: “The crime that she allegedly did was to be the darling of Zanu-PF and to mount structured support within the party, to the extent that she could have defeated Mugabe at congress.”

Pictures of T-shirts printed with the words “Gushungo Victory Cup” circulated on social media [yesterday]. Gushungo is Mr Mugabe’s clan name. The cup is ostensibly a football match that has been hastily arranged ­between Zimbabwe’s most popular soccer teams, Highlanders and Dynamos. The guest of honour is none other than Emmerson Mnangagwa, the man who has squeezed out Ms Mujuru and, for now at least, appears to be a strong contender to succeed the 90-year-old president.

Elections are under way for seats in the 300-strong central committee this week – but Ms Mujuru was not allowed to stand for re-election.

A report in the Herald newspaper said her CV had been ­rejected by officials conducting the elections because she had “plotted to kill” Mr Mugabe. The Herald is controlled by allies of Mr Mnangagwa, including information minister Jonathan Moyo.

“The CV of comrade Joice Teurai Ropa Mujuru was not recommended. We agreed that for any member of the party who is accused of plotting to assassinate the president we are not going to accept his or her CV,” said a Zanu-PF official.

Former guerrilla fighter Ms Mujuru was recently accused of masterminding a plot to kill Mr Mugabe, the latest in a series of fantastical charges levelled against her. Other charges include those of wearing a miniskirt and cooking a meal for a Western diplomat. Ms Mujuru, whose wartime alias was “Spill Blood”, maintained a dignified silence until she was accused of treason, at which point she was forced to turn to the press to say she had contacted her lawyers.

Mr Mnangagwa and Mr Mugabe have used First Lady Grace Mugabe to front their attacks on Ms Mujuru. The former typist has taken up the challenge with gusto, telling Ms Mujuru recently that “you stink even though you put on perfume”. Many believe the first lady is aiming for the presidency herself.

Ms Mujuru’s allies are also being ruthlessly purged from the central committee. Zimbabweans have watched in amazement as Zanu-PF officials such as presidential affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, tourism minister Walter Mzembi and indigenisation minister Francis Nhema lost their committee seats.