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- Power struggle to succeed Mugabe is getting hotter
- Analysts claim that First Lady Grace Mugabe has taken sides with other leadership contentor Emmerson Mnangagwa
- Reports suggest that Politburo meeting next week will expel Vice President Mujuru from the party
Deputy Joice Mujuru is alleged to have been at the centre of a plan, along with two party allies, to kill the 90-year-old premier
The deputy president of Zimbabwe has been linked to a plot to assassinate the country’s premier Robert Mugabe, according to a report in a state-run newspaper.
The Sunday Mail, which is widely seen as a mouthpiece for the Zanu-PF party of Mr Mugabe, claimed Joice Mujuru, 59, the vice-president and one of two frontrunners to succeed the 90-year-old leader, was “at the centre” of the plan led by two of her allies in the party.
The newspaper cited legal experts as calling for police to investigate the allegations, and analysts as saying the revelations made Mrs Mujuru’s continued senior position in the party “untenable”.
The assassination allegation is widely seen as another salvo in the battle for the party’s vice presidential position ahead of next month’s elective congress. The vice president will succeed Mr Mugabe when he dies or retires, but only for 90 days.
In recent months Mr Mugabe’s wife, Grace, watch has been campaigning in the provinces for high political office, claiming she is a presidential contender.
At a series of rallies, she has accused Mrs Mujuru, believed to be the West’s preferred Mugabe replacement, of being a thief, and of plotting a coup against her husband.
At present, Mrs Mugabe is backed by party strongman Emmerson Mnangagwa, 72. But he too has been seen as Mrs Mujuru’s greatest rival to the presidency and some analysts say that if Mr Mugabe died or retired, his support for Mrs Mugabe, would evaporate.
The allegations follow the suspension of many of Mrs Mujuru’s key supporters within Zanu-PF at a meeting of the party’s all-powerful politburo last week.
Votes of no confidence were also passed against half of Zanu-PF’s provincial chairmen, most of them known Mujuru supporters.
Ibbo Mandaza, a Zimbabwean analyst who was a senior member of Zanu-PF until six years ago, said Mrs Mujuru, who is thought to be the West’s preferred candidate to take over from Mr Mugabe, is now a “lame duck” vice president.