Mugabe spokesman George Charamba on Saturday said Moyo – who has spearheaded Mugabe's propaganda campaign through five years of mounting political and economic crisis – had been stripped of party membership, his legislative seat and cabinet post.

"By his actions, he ceases to be a member of parliament and a minister in [the] government," Charamba said in a statement.

Moyo registered on Friday as an independent candidate for the 31 March parliamentary elections after being sidelined in a power struggle to become Mugabe's likely successor when he retires in 2008.
   
Moyo was not immediately available for comment.
   
Moyo is regarded by many as the architect of tough media laws enacted three years ago requiring news organisations and journalists to register with a state media commission and barring foreigners from working permanently in the country as correspondents. 

Independent candidate
   
Moyo, who had held one of 20 parliamentary seats reserved for Mugabe appointees under Zimbabwe's electoral laws, now plans to run as an independent candidate in his rural home constituency of Tsholotsho in southwestern Zimbabwe.
   
Moyo's departure from ZANU-PF marked one of the first high-level defections following an unprecedented succession struggle.

The dispute centred on the nomination of a woman government minister, Joyce Mujuru, as the second vice-president of ZANU-PF and of Zimbabwe - a move which blocked the rise of Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa, regarded for years as the most likely candidate for the post.
   
Moyo was accused of holding a meeting to back Mnangagwa, who eventually lost the race for the job widely seen as a stepping stone to the presidency.