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 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 Vice-president, Joice Mujuru.
Mujuru, along with powerful Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who in the past controlled secret police and military, are seen as the leading contenders to replace 90-year-old Robert Mugabe when he steps down or dies.
But Grace’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 her husband could be grooming her to take over when he dies. “We campaigned for you not only last year, but over the years, but now it is war because I have been nominated,” said Grace, 49, who is set to become head of ZANU-PF’s influential women’s league.
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.