Zimbabwe's first lady gets ruling party post

Grace Mugabe, wife of long-serving president, named head of ZANU-PF women's wing, underlining her rapid political rise.

    Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party has confirmed President Robert Mugabe's wife Grace as the new head of its women's wing at a congress.

    Grace Mugabe's appointment, approved to the cheers of 12,000 delegates in a parade ground in central Harare on Saturday, gives her a seat on the ruling party's top decision-making politburo.

    The development underlined her rapid political rise in the country.

    Over the last three months, the 49-year-old first lady has carried out a campaign against Vice President Joice Mujuru, who until recently was a leading contender in a behind-the-scenes battle to eventually succeed the 90-year-old president.

    Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980, openly denounced Mujuru when he opened the congress on Thursday, accusing her of leading a group within the ruling party intent on ousting him from power.

    Mugabe's comments appeared to effectively elbow out Mujuru from the race to take over from him as both ZANU-PF's and Zimbabwe's leader, leaving a seemingly clear path for her rival Emmerson Mnangagwa, the justice minister.

    The infighting within the ruling party has increased uncertainty in a country grappling with economic problems which critics blame on decades of mismanagement by Mugabe.

    His controversial policies, including the forcible acquisition of white-owned commercial farms for blacks, have alienated Western donors who also accuse Mugabe of rigging elections since 2000 to stay in power.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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