Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has fired his longtime ally and vice president, potentially clearing the way for his wife, Grace Mugabe, to take the role and eventually succeed her 93-year-old husband.
Mugabe accused Emmerson Mnangagwa of “disloyalty, disrespect, deceitfulness and unreliability,” according to a press statement issued by Zimbabwe’s Information Minister Simon Khaya-Moyo.
Mnangagwa’s removal means Grace Mugabe is expected to be appointed vice president at a special congress of the ruling Zanu-PF party next month.
“The First Lady is well-positioned to fill the (role) of Vice President and has significant support from the Zanu-PF party machinery,” says Tinashe Jakwa, a Southern Africa analyst at the African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP).
However, the party’s constitution does not currently allow for a female to take the vice presidency, so this would first need to be amended, although provincial councils have expressed their willingness to make these changes.
In August, Grace Mugabe was accused of assaulting a model, Gabriella Engels, with an electric cord in South Africa, but was allowed to return home to Zimbabwe after the South African government approved her request for diplomatic immunity.
Mugabe has potential competition for the vice presidency.
Minister for Defense Sydney Sekeramayi is “believed to be a contender for the vice presidency and is considered a dark horse in the succession drama,” Jakwa says.
“His elevation to the VP post would be a strategic move to curb perceptions of a Mugabe dynasty.”