Mugabe succession battle intensifies ahead of key congress

2014-11-14 14:21
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. (File: AFP)

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. (File: AFP)

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Harare - Zimbabwe's ruling party has suspended two senior officials and expelled another as tensions over President Robert Mugabe's succession intensify ahead of a key congress next month, media reported on Friday.

The state-owned Herald newspaper said Zanu-PF politburo suspended spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and lawmaker Enoch Porusingazi for five years, while war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda was expelled.

"I can confirm the suspensions," Psychology Maziwisa, the Zanu-PF party deputy party spokesperson told AFP declining to comment further.

Zanu-PF has been riven by factional feuding over the successor of 90-year-old Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980.

Gumbo and Porusingazi are seen as sympathising with Vice-President Joice Mujuru, accused by Mugabe's wife Grace of plotting to topple the long-ruling president.

New spokesperson

Sibanda refused to join Grace Mugabe's entourage when she went on a nationwide tour launching tirades against her opponents.

The battle for Mugabe's succession escalated following the surprise nomination of Grace Mugabe to lead the powerful women's wing, amid speculation that she could be aiming to take over from her husband when he steps down or dies.

After her nomination she began a campaign disparaging her opponents, accusing Mujuru of fomenting division in the party and plotting to topple Mugabe.

Mujuru and powerful Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa - who in the past controlled the secret police and military - are seen as the leading contenders to replace Mugabe.

New spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo told the Herald that he would not discuss reasons for the dismissals, saying "I am not talking of any allegations at all."

"I am talking of the position taken by the politburo."

Mugabe is expected to be confirmed as the party's leader at the congress, but the fight for positions on the powerful politburo is seen a start of a campaign by leaders to succeed him.

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