WORLD-President Mugabe fires long-time heir
HARARE –– Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe today fired his deputy Joice Mujuru, a few hours after she dismissed allegations that she had plotted to assassinate the 90-year-old Zimbabwean leader as “ridiculous”.
Mugabe also fired eight cabinet ministers, Zimbabwe’s chief secretary to the cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, said in a statement.
Sibanda said Mugabe had dismissed his vice-president “because her conduct had become inconsistent with her official duties”.
The firing of Mujuru –– long expected to replace Mugabe –– came after she issued a statement dismissing claims by Mugabe that she had plotted with the opposition and the West to kill him as not having “one iota of evidence”.
Of the eight sacked ministers, including a junior minister, Sibanda said: “It had become apparent that their conduct and performance were below the expected conduct.”
The political upheaval erupted last week when Mugabe accused Mujuru of trying to topple him and of being a “thief” of minerals.
“Wanting a post should not lead someone into plotting to kill,” he said in reference to Mujuru, while opening his ruling Zanu PF party’s congress in the capital Harare.
A day earlier, he told his party’s central committee that Mujuru, a Zanu PF member, was working with the West to oust or assassinate him.
Mujuru was seen as the likely successor to Mugabe until recently, when first lady Grace Mugabe accused her of being “too dull” and “too corrupt” to lead.
Analysts now say the first lady is being groomed to succeed her husband, the only leader Zimbabweans have known since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980.
On Saturday, she was confirmed as the leader of the powerful women’s wing of Zanu PF.
At the same time, Mugabe has ruled out leaving politics, despite his advanced age.
“I still have a bright mind, I still have the will,” Mugabe said as he officially closed his party’s five-day congress late Saturday, in a speech that lasted about an hour.
He said he would announce a new line-up of Zanu PF leaders by this Thursday.
“We will do a reshuffle. There will be disappointments. Those who are not here have said goodbye to us,” he said, referring to Mujuru and her allies, who have been snubbing most party leadership meetings since the public attacks against her.
Under the new constitution of Zanu PF, Mugabe handpicks the entire leadership of his party.