HARARE - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party has barred his embattled deputy Joice Mujuru from contesting a seat in its highest decision-making organ, further undermining her chances of succeeding the veteran leader.
State media has accused Mujuru - who until recently was considered one of the front runners to some day take over from the 90-year-old Mugabe - of plotting to challenge her boss at a party congress set for next week.
On Wednesday Wonder Mashange, the acting ZANU-PF chairman in Mujuru's home province of Mashonaland Central, said the party had rejected her bid to vie for a central committee seat.
The ruling party selects its two vice presidents and members of the politburo, the executive organ that runs its daily affairs, from the 245-member central committee. "The Vice President's CV (curriculum vitae) was rejected because as a province, we do not want to be seen to support people who go about plotting against the President," Mashange told Reuters.
Mujuru could not be immediately contacted for comment.
Her fate now lies in the hands of Mugabe, who is allowed under the ZANU-PF constitution to appoint 10 people to the central committee.
Mujuru, 59, who assumed the nom de guerre "Spill Blood"during Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation war, and Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, nicknamed "Crocodile", have long been seen as the top contenders to step into Mugabe's shoes when he retires or dies.
Mujuru has denied charges of planning to oust Mugabe, the southern African country's sole leader since independence from Britain in 1980.
On Tuesday several of her allies, including cabinet ministers, lost central committee elections in their regions.