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Report: Zimbabwe

Mugabe slams 'traitors' at Zanu-PF congress as Mujuru stays away

President Mugabe and his wife at the ruling party Zanu-PF's elective congress, Harare, 4 December 2014
President Mugabe and his wife at the ruling party Zanu-PF's elective congress, Harare, 4 December 2014 Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has opened a three-day congress of his ruling party with an angry rant against "traitors" within Zanu-PF. The comments were directed at Vice-President Joice Mujuru and her allies, who are being purged from the party as the president tightens his grip on power.

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Mujuru, who is at the head of a "treacherous cabal" that has been secretly working to topple him, according to the 90-year-old leader, looks set to be sacked from the post of vice-president, which she has held for 10 years.

Mugabe's speech was around half the length of his usual opening addresses to the Zanu-PF party congress but it lacked none of his characteristic fury.

He told the thousands of Zanu-PF delegates that a group within his politburo had been working to change Zanu-PF's leadership and oust him from power.

This was a clear reference to Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who unsurprisingly didn’t show up at the congress on Thursday.

Locals speculated she was watching his speech on her TV at home in Harare.

Mujuru has been one of the more popular figures in Mugabe's government but in the last two months she has been the target of bitter attacks from state media and Mugabe's wife Grace.

Yesterday Mugabe accused Mujuru of corrupt gold and diamond mining deals and warned she could face a police investigation.

The congress is almost certain to see Mujuru stripped of her vice-presidency, albeit in absentia.

This will likely open the way for her arch-rival, justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to reposition himself as Mugabe’s heir apparent.

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