Joice Mujuru still Zimbabwe VP despite reports

Mujuru, who’s been vice president for 10 years, has been under sustained attack from Zanu-PF factions.

Deputy President of Zimbabwe Joice Mujuru. Picture: EPA.

HARARE - Zimbabwe's Vice President Joice Mujuru is reported to still be in her position despite reports that she has stepped down.

Mujuru, who's been vice president for 10 years, has been under sustained attack from a powerful faction in 90-year-old President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and from the president's wife, Grace.

Independent news website ZimEye reported last night that Mujuru had tendered her resignation to Mugabe.

This was picked up by a number of media agencies.

However, according to a report on state ZBC radio, Mujuru is actually the acting president.

The first couple are in Zambia to attend the funeral of President Michael Sata.

Six of Mujuru's allies have just been forced out of their jobs as party provincial leaders in what analysts say will severely weaken the vice president's position ahead of the congress next month.

The succession battle went into overdrive in October when his wife, Grace, attacked Mujuru, accusing her of plotting to oust Mugabe at a party congress in December.

She has made no formal response to Grace's accusations.

Throughout the opening of Parliament ceremony last month, Grace exchanged no words with Mujuru, who sat next to Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, smiling and sharing jokes.

Mujuru, Mugabe's deputy both in the party and government for the last 10 years, has been a frontrunner to succeed Mugabe but faces a stiff challenge from Mnangagwa, an enduring politician known as "The Crocodile".

During more than three decades in power in the southern African country, analysts say Mugabe has neutralised challengers by playing off ZANU-PF factions, and may be doing the same with his wife's sudden emergence into front-line politics.

Mujuru, a battle-hardened veteran of the 1970s liberation war with a nom de guerre that means 'Spill Blood', won Mugabe's support for the vice-president post in 2004 but now appears to be in a precarious position ahead of this year's congress.

The political infighting comes against a backdrop of economic strife, with impoverished Zimbabwe starved of foreign investment and donor funding.

Ambitious election promises made by Mugabe a year ago to create millions of jobs by 2018 and promote the needs of blacks has backfired as a policy to force foreign firms to sell majority stakes to locals has hammered investment and output.

In his 25-minute speech, the veteran leader threatened action against blacks who derailed the empowerment drive - known locally as indigenisation - by acting as fronts for foreigners.

"It is depressing that some of our people have turned themselves into mere fronts for foreign investors, thus defeating the fundamental objective," Mugabe said.

"Decisive action shall indeed be taken to address these negative developments."