HARARE (AFP) – Zimbabwe’s ruling party has expelled its former spokesman Rugare Gumbo as tensions escalate ahead of key elections to choose new party leaders, the state broadcaster reported Thursday.
The news came at a widely-watched meeting of the ZANU-PF expected to provide a key to who will succeed veteran Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, with the party riven by internal feuding.
Party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) that Gumbo, a former cabinet minister, was banished by the party’s central committee but declined to give reasons.
Gumbo, a party veteran, and lawmaker Enoch Porusingazi were suspended from the party for five years last month while Jabulani Sibanda, then leader of the war veterans, was suspended.
Gumbo and Porusingazi are seen as sympathising with Vice-President Joice Mujuru, accused by Mugabe and his wife Grace of plotting to topple the president.
Sibanda had refused to join Grace Mugabe’s entourage when she went on a nationwide tour, criticising her opponents.
ZANU-PF has been rocked by internal squabbling over who will take over from 90-year-old Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980.
The battle for Mugabe’s succession escalated following the surprise nomination of Grace Mugabe to lead the party’s powerful women’s wing, triggering speculation she could be aiming to take over from her husband when he steps down or dies.