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Mugabe fires vice president in succession row

Harare, Monday

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has today fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the government said, as the battle between Mnangagwa and Mugabe’s wife Grace to succeed the veteran leader intensified.

“(President) Mugabe has exercised his powers to relieve honourable vice president E.D. Mnangagwa of his position as vice president,” Information Minister Simon Khaya Moyo told a press briefing in Harare, accusing him of “disloyalty”.

Mugabe’s dramatic move came after a weekend of high drama between Mnangagwa and Grace after which Mugabe appeared to finally back his wife in the succession race. On Saturday the 93-year-old president threatened to fire Mnangagwa, accusing him of fanning factionalism to garner support ahead of a party special congress due in December, after Grace was booed at a weekend rally. Grace responded defiantly on Sunday by saying that she was ready to succeed her husband.

“It had become evident that his conduct in the discharge of his duties had become inconsistent with his official responsibilities,” Moyo said. “The vice president has consistently and persistently exhibited the traits of disloyalty, disrespect, deceitfulness and unreliability.”

Mnangagwa was appointed vice president in 2014, taking over from Joice Mujuru — who was axed after Grace Mugabe launched a campaign accusing her of plotting to topple the president.

During the rally, Grace said she is ready to succeed her husband as tensions rise in Zimbabwe’s ruling party over who will take over from the country’s ageing leader. “I say to Mr Mugabe you should leave me to take over your post,” she said on Sunday in Harare.

“Have no fear. If you want to give me the job give it to me freely,” Grace Mugabe (pictured) said. The move would likely see her replace Mnangagwa and pave the way for her to succeed her husband, who is Africa’s oldest president and has ruled the former British colony for 37 years. —AFP

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