, HARARE, November 27- Zimbabwe’s ruling party will amend its constitution to allow President Robert Mugabe to personally appoint his deputies, state media reported Thursday, in a move that would consolidate the veteran ruler’s iron-grip on power.
Citing party sources, The Herald newspaper said ZANU-PF had “agreed on proposed amendments that will pave the way for President Mugabe to appoint all politburo members”.
These include the party’s vice presidents and its national chairman, thereby preventing “the creation of multiple centres of power”, the paper quoted an anonymous source as saying.
The changes, which are expected to be rubberstamped at the party’s congress which opens next week, come as top politicians are jostling to succeed the 90 year old president who has ruled Zimbabwe for over three decades.
In what appeared to be a purge, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) on Wednesday ousted vice president Joice Mujuru from the party leadership.
Mujuru and powerful Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa were both leading contenders to replace Mugabe, who has been in power since independence from Britain in 1980.
But Mujuru has been sidelined after Mugabe’s wife Grace accused her of plotting to assassinate the president, of corruption and fomenting factionalism which is threatening to tear ZANU-PF party apart.
Two senior officials linked to Mujuru had also been suspended from the party, and another expelled.
Grace Mugabe’s sustained campaign against Mujuru, as well as her surprise nomination in August to lead the powerful women’s wing of ZANU-PF have fueled speculation that she was eyeing the top spot herself.
Robert Mugabe himself has blasted the feuding within his party, declaring late October in a speech broadcast on national television that he was still in control.
He has also defended the nomination of his wife to the top job in the party’s women’s wing.
Mugabe, Africa’s oldest leader, is expected to be confirmed as party chief at the congress.