Grace Mugabe warns rival Joice Mujuru faces expulsion from ruling party as battle to succeed 90-year-old president intensifies
President Robert Mugabe’s increasingly powerful wife Grace has threatened Zimbabwe’s vice-president with expulsion from the ruling party, throwing a fierce succession battle within Zanu-PF into the open.
“I told the president that if you don’t dump that faction leader we will dump her ourselves,” Grace Mugabe said on the campaign trail, referring to the vice-president and Robert Mugabe’s one-time heir apparent, Joice Mujuru.
Mujuru and the powerful justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa – who in the past controlled the secret police and military – are seen as the leading contenders to replace the 90-year-old Mugabe when he steps down or dies.
But Grace Mugabe’s recent entry into politics, swift rise to power within the ruling Zanu-PF and ferocious attacks on Mujuru, have raised the prospect that the vice-president’s star is waning.
It has also raised speculation that Mugabe could be grooming his wife to take over when he dies.
“We campaigned for you [Mujuru] not only last year, but over the years, but now it is war because I have been nominated,” said Grace Mugabe, 49, who is likely to become head of Zanu-PF’s influential women’s league.
“I do not think anything good would come out if I mobilise people to go in the streets and dump you,” she was quoted as saying by state media on Friday.
Grace Mugabe accused Mujuru – the widow of the late liberation war guerrilla commander Solomon Mujuru – of leading a faction vying for power, and demanded that she apologise.
“You cannot continue denying that you lead a faction every day. Wherever you are, go together with your cronies, go and apologise before it is too late because the president is also fed up with these issues,” Grace Mugabe said at a rally in Bindura, north-east of the capital, Harare.
Her comments appear to be an opening gambit in the endgame to succeed her husband. Zanu-PF will hold a crucial elective congress in December. Robert Mugabe is expected to be confirmed as the party’s leader, but the fight for positions on the powerful politburo could be decisive. Mugabe has been in power since 1980 and has long avoided appointing a successor.
Grace Mugabe has also accused Mujuru of spreading rumours about her involvement in Zimbabwe’s lucrative diamond trade.
Although racked by a seemingly interminable economic crisis, Zimbabwe is home to one of the …READ MORE …