Zimbabwean Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was plotting to seize power, state media said Tuesday, the day after President Robert Mugabe sacked him in a bitter power struggle. Mnangagwa was the leading contender to succeed Mugabe, 93, but his abrupt removal appeared to clear the way for the president’s wife Grace to take over.
The government-owned Chronicle newspaper published an excoriating editorial accusing Mnangagwa and his supporters of being “prepared to stampede President Mugabe from power.” “The President had warned his deputy time and again to desist from having grand designs to seize power unconstitutionally,” the Bulawayo-based paper said.
It accused Mnangagwa of “running parallel structures with the ruling ZANU-PF party and fomenting divisions.” Mnangagwa, 75, a veteran party loyalist who has strong ties to the military, has not yet commented on his dismissal. At the weekend, Grace Mugabe was jeered at a rally in Bulawayo.
The Chronicle said the jeering was “the highest level of indiscipline ever seen in the ZANU-PF” and that Grace was targeted for exposing the “nefarious activities” of Mnangagwa’s supporters. Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 and is due to stand in elections again next year.
Grace Mugabe 41 years younger than her husband has three children with the president and become increasingly active in public life in recent years.