'Zanu-PF seized by people driven by greed & hate'

Didymus Mutasa says an evil clique within Zanu-PF has robbed Mugabe of his legacy as a unifier.

FILE: Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. Picture: AFP.

ZIMBABWE - A prominent ally of ousted vice president Joice Mujuru has issued an astonishing public attack on President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace Mugabe.

In a sign that Mujuru's faction in the party may be readying itself for a fight, Didymus Mutasa said power in the ruling party had been seized by a group of people driven by greed and hate.

In a lengthy statement published in the private press, the ex-presidential affairs minister accuses the first lady of preaching "a gospel of hate".

Mutasa says an evil clique within Zanu-PF has robbed Mugabe of his legacy as a unifier and a rational thinker.

He was sacked from the party and government last month, along with Mujuru and several ministers, for allegedly plotting to oust Mugabe, and even have him assassinated.

This statement is being seen inside Zimbabwe as a sign the Mujuru faction could be preparing to fight back.

Mujuru has been accused of plotting with western powers including the United States to unseat Mugabe, charges which she said earlier today were ridiculous.

The move came days after Mugabe publicly rebuked the woman who was seen just months ago as his most likely successor, denouncing her before party loyalists as leader of a "treacherous cabal" bent on removing him from office.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has not indicated a preferred political heir, but his advanced age and rumours of ill health have escalated succession fights in the ruling ZANU-PF party.

The race has been shaken up in recent weeks by the first lady, who has emerged as a potential successor. She has also launched withering attacks on Mujuru.

Mujuru's fall could also clear the path for Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, a hardline Mugabe loyalist known as 'The Crocodile', to position himself to take over when Africa's oldest head of state dies or retires.

The current political infighting comes against a backdrop of slowing economic growth and high unemployment.