Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has fired his deputy, Joice Mujuru, and seven government ministers, his cabinet secretary said yesterday, in the latest twist in the struggle over the choice of his successor.
The move took place days after Mr Mugabe, 90, publicly rebuked Ms Mujuru, who a few months ago was thought to be the most likely to take his place when he dies or retires.
Misheck Sibanda, chief secretary to the cabinet, said in a statement that Ms Mujuru had been dismissed because of conflicts of interest and conduct “inconsistent with the expected standard”.
Didymus Mutasa, state security minister and a long-time Mugabe ally, was also sacked, along with Francis Nhema, who headed the indigenisation ministry in charge of a drive to force foreign firms to sell majority stakes to locals.
Mr Mugabe did not immediately name any replacements.
The news appeared to seal the political fate of Ms Mujuru, seen by some in the Zimbabwean business community as a common-sense leader who could have helped restore ties with the West that fell apart during the latter half of Mr Mugabe’s 34 years in power.
Ms Mujuru, who was also dismissed as Mr Mugabe’s deputy in the ruling Zanu-PF party last week, gave statements to yesterday’s editions of two private daily newspapers, dismissing the accusations against her.
“The allegations that I, alone, or together with various distinguished comrades, have sought to remove His Excellency R G Mugabe from office are ridiculous,” she said.
Ms Mujuru, the 59-year-old former guerrilla leader who was known as “Spill Blood” during the liberation war, was not immediately available to comment on the report of her dismissal.
Mr Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has not indicated a preferred political heir, but his advanced age and rumours of ill health have escalated succession fights in Zanu-PF.
The race has been shaken up in recent weeks by the first lady, Grace Mugabe, 49, who has emerged as a potential successor. She has also launched withering attacks on Ms Mujuru.