Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, on Wednesday in Harare, accused his embattled deputy, Joice Mujuru, of plotting to unseat him.
He also accused her of working with the opposition in a coalition government.
Mujuru, a battle-hardened guerrilla nicknamed “Spill Blood”, had faced accusations from Mugabe’s wife, Grace, and state-owned media of corruption and plotting to kill Mugabe in what analysts said was a smear campaign to end her immediate political career.
Mugabe also accused the West, especially London and Washington, of funding the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to remove him from power.
He told a meeting of military commanders and veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation war that jostling for power in his ruling ZANU-PF, that the crisis had reached unprecedented levels.
He said “we are experiencing it for the first time in ZANU-PF, and for that matter, it’s a woman who is saying ; “I want to take over that seat.
“We know the discussions that have been done, ‘Oh, we will link up with the MDC and America and Britain will pour lots of money.’’
Mugabe said “this is simplistic thinking, Mujuru, cannot handle the pressures of this job.’’
The Zimbabwean president told the meeting that he felt humiliated to work with the MDC, which he berates as stooges of the West.
He said Mujuru opposed holding elections last year, seeking to continue in the coalition government that was credited with ending a decade of economic collapse and hyperinflation.
However, Mujuru, the leader of a ZANU-PF group that was viewed as moderate and pro-business, had denied plotting against Mugabe.
Meanwhile, the ZANU-PF had started its five-yearly congress on Tuesday and Mugabe was under pressure from ZANU-PF young people and women to drop Mujuru.