Zimbabwe’s 90-year-old dictator, Robert Mugabe, is continuing to expand his purge at the highest levels of office, disparaging his vice president, Joice Mujuru, as a politician willing to cooperate with white people.
Mugabe did not mention Mujuru by name, though the Agence France-Presse (AFP) notes that it has become increasingly public that she has fallen out of favor in the leftist government. Instead, Mugabe warned that there had been “infiltrations” by enemies within his own party, and that “a woman” was challenging him. “We know the infiltrations that has [sic] been going on,” he warned. “They were saying, ‘We will work with the (opposition) MDC, Britain and America.’ That [sic] simplistic thinking. You can’t trust the white man.” He described the situation within his own party as “unprecedented jostling” for power, condemning those beneath him in the government who allegedly partook in such behavior.
Some individuals who have already been removed during this reshuffling of power told the AFP that they were concerned about the state of the Zimbabwean government. While never a democracy under Mugabe, those within his party still claimed it to be so–until they, too, became victims of his wrath. In particular, the removal of an electoral process for party positions, replaced with Mugabe hand-picking party Congress members himself, has distressed many. Suspended party spokesman Rugare Gumbo told the AFP, “If Mugabe is given the power to appoint then it ceases to be an elective congress. The whole congress is a non-event because the constitution has been manipulated and violated. So where is democracy? It is not a congress at all. It is a charade.”
State-run press has also taken to attacking Mujuru. The Associated Press notes that state media has claimed that Mujuru was once involved in a plot to assassinate Mugabe, though the evidence provided is lackluster, at best. The reports followed Mujuru’s ouster from a high-level party post last week.
Contributing to the intrigue are overt ambitions by Mugabe’s first lady, Grace, to succeed him in power. Grace Mugabe recently took on the leadership of the women’s wing of Mugabe’s party, and has received such outstanding honors as a street named after her and a Ph.D. in orphanages in three months’ time. Grace Mugabe has stated openly that she has not discounted the possibility of running for president. “People say I want to be president, why not? Am I not a Zimbabwean?” Mugabe said in October. She added that Mujuru as president “would bring us back to where we were before independence.”