Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has fired his deputy Joice Mujuru along with eight ministers aligned with her, days after she lost her post in the ruling party, officials said.
Mugabe sacked Mujuru, 59, on Tuesday after weeks of accusations that she had led a “treacherous cabal” to try to unseat Mugabe.
The sacked officials received their dismissal letters on Monday night, reported the Reuters news agency, citing two government sources it said declined to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.
Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from the capital Harare, said Mugabe “says he has evidence that Mujuru met with US officials, and in this meeting they plotted a plan to try and remove” him from office.
“Supporters of ZANU-PF are concerned that there could be a split [in the party]. They know that Mujuru has been a member of the party for many years – even before independence from British rule in 1980,” our correspondent said.
“She does have a following – a lot of women supporters thought that she would perhaps be the first woman president of Zimbabwe one day, should Mugabe step down.”
Mujuru on Tuesday blamed “a well-orchestrated smear campaign and gross abuse of state apparatus” that led to the loss of her ruling party post and shook Zimbabwean politics, the AFP news agency reported.
Mujuru, who once looked likely to succeed Mugabe – in power for 34 years – has been accused of plotting to assassinate the 90-year-old and was removed from the ruling ZANU-PF party’s central committee.
She said she was being victimised after exposing infiltrators conspiring to destroy the party, which has ruled the country since independence in 1980.
“I have become the fly in the web of lies whose final objective is the destruction of ZANU-PF and what it stands for and ultimately the present government,” Mujuru said in a statement.
“A vociferous attempt has been made to portray me as ‘a traitor’, ‘murderer’ and ‘sellout’, yet no iota of evidence has been produced to give credence to the allegations.”
ZANU-PF held an elective congress last week which endorsed Mugabe as president and his wife Grace as head of the women’s wing.