Mugabe names two new vice presidents

Justice Minister and a former diplomat to also serve as governing ZANU-FP vice presidents in ongoing political shake-up.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe as president for 34 years, won a disputed election last year [Reuters]

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has named two vice presidents – his justice minister and a former military commander and diplomat – a day after dismissing his deputy.

The appointment of Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, who will also serve as vice presidents in the governing ZANU-PF, was announced on Wednesday in the capital Harare.

Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from Harare, said Mnangagwa and Mphoko would be sworn in on Friday.

“The people he has chosen are people he trusts. People whom he thinks will not try to remove him and his wife from power,” she said.

Mugabe relieved Joice Mujuru, who also held the position of vice secretary of ZANU-PF, of her responsibilities on Tuesday, accusing her of plotting to remove him from power.

Eight other ministers were also removed in what analysts have described as in infighting in ZANU-PF.

Last week Mugabe’s wife Grace became the leader of the powerful ZANU-PF women’s league, a move observers said could pave the way for her to assume power once her husband steps down.

Mugabe, 90, has ruled the southern African nation for 34 years and won a disputed election last year that will see him serving as president for five more years. 

Mnangagwa has been long been viewed as Mujuru’s main political rival to succeed Mugabe. Mujuru appeared to be ahead of Mnangagwa, 68, when she was promoted to vice president in 2004. Mnangagwa was then accused by Mugabe of plotting a coup and was relegated to a junior cabinet post and his allies in ZANU-PF were purged from the leadership, similar to what has just happened to Mujuru.

Mnangagwa remained loyal to Mugabe and slowly regained his trust. He served as Mugabe’s chief election agent in last year’s polls.

The second vice president, Phekezela Mphoko, is also a liberation war veteran and is not very well known in Zimbabwe as he spent many years as a diplomat.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies