Monday 23 September 2019

Robert Mugabe fires vice-president as Zimbabwe's first lady makes power pitch

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe (AP)
Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe (AP)

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has fired a vice president who had previously been seen as a likely successor, removing an obstacle to the presidential ambitions of Mr Mugabe's wife.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was removed from office on Monday "with immediate effect", the government said, opening the way to the possible appointment of Grace Mugabe to the post.

The 93-year-old president and his wife have in recent months accused Mr Mnangagwa of plotting to oust Zimbabwe's leader, who has been in power since independence from white minority rule in 1980.

Mr Mnangagwa had been vice president since 2014 when his predecessor, Joice Mujuru, was fired for allegedly plotting to oust Mr Mugabe.

His dismissal was announced by Simon Khaya Moyo, the information minister.

Mr Mnangagwa was the most prominent of two vice presidents and had been part of Mr Mugabe's cabinet since independence in 1980.

He is said to have enjoyed the support of military generals and war veterans.

His critics view him as ruthless because he was in charge of state security when Mr Mugabe unleashed a North Korean-trained brigade to crush dissent in western Zimbabwe in the 1980s.

At the weekend, both Mr Mugabe and his wife used political rallies to suggest that Mr Mnangagwa would be fired.

Speculation is now swirling over whether Grace Mugabe will be appointed to the vacant vice president's post at a party congress next month.

On Sunday, she said at a rally that she was ready to take over from her husband.

"So I have said to the president: 'You can also leave me in charge,'" she said.

"'Give me the job and I will do it very well because I am good.

"I can do a great job.'"


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