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Zimbabwe President Fires VP, Ministers


FILE - Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, attends the burial of Major General Bandama who died after a short illness at the National Heroes acre in Harare, July, 17, 2014.

FILE - Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, attends the burial of Major General Bandama who died after a short illness at the National Heroes acre in Harare, July, 17, 2014.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has fired Vice President Joice Mujuru and at least seven government ministers seen as her allies.

In an interview Tuesday with VOA's Studio 7 Zimbabwe, Mujuru said she complied with a request from Mugabe to step down.

"I am not a fighting character. I am a trained person," she said. "When you receive an order from your senior, you carry it out right through."

She also denied accusations that she was plotting to oust the president from office or assassinate him. She said the claims were “ridiculous” and did not have "one iota of evidence."

She also said she will remain a loyal member of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Mujuru declares loyalty

Zimbabwean political commentator Takura Zhangazha said that makes it unlikely Mujuru and her allies will be further punished.

“President Mugabe, at the last congress, said they would not expel them from the party, some of the members they have differences with, but they will not be given positions to hold [in government and ZANU-PF]," said Zhangazha. "I think she has that option. And given her statement today and her declaration of loyalty to ZANU-PF I think she will probably stay in the party.”

Once seen as a likely successor to the 90-year-old Mugabe, Mujuru lost favor with Mugabe in recent months, and she lost her post as party vice president at a ZANU-PF conference last week.

That development followed accusations from first lady Grace Mugabe that she was unfit to lead the country. Mrs. Mugabe has been installed as the party's new head of the women's wing.

Mugabe last week was re-elected to another five-year term as party leader. ZANU-PF members also authorized him to choose the party's vice president and other top posts.

Watching Grace

Mugabe, still hailed by many Zimbabweans as a liberation hero, has ruled Zimbabwe since the country won independence from Britain in 1980.

He remains subject to travel and financial sanctions by the U.S., Britain and other Western countries that accuse him of rigging elections and ruining Zimbabwe's economy with his policies, especially the forcible transfer of white-owned commercial farmland to blacks.

Mujuru's political rival, Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, is now positioned to replace her as Zimbabwean vice president, a possible successor to the 90-year-old Mugabe.

But analysts say Grace Mugabe cannot be discounted out of Zimbabwe’s succession drama. At last week's party congress she was appointed the head of the party’s women's wing -- a position that usually results in being appointed to the Cabinet.

Sebastian Mhofu in Harare, Zimbabwe, contributed to this report.

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