Zimbabwe ruling party expels top official in purge

Zimbabwe's vice-president Joice Mujuru and ruling Zanu-PF party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa dance during closing of the Zanu-PF national annual conference in Chinhoyi on December 15, 2013 (AFP Photo/Jekesai Njikizana)

Harare (AFP) - Zimbabwe's ruling party has expelled a former top official and ally of President Robert Mugabe, the party announced late Wednesday, in an apparent purge targeting allies of ex-deputy president Joice Mujuru.

Didymus Mutasa, a former secretary for administration in Mugabe's ZANU-PF and one-time speaker of parliament, was accused along with Mujuru of plotting to oust the 90-year-old leader.

He was sacked by the party's supreme decision-making body, the politburo.

ZANU-PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo said the party's disciplinary panel had treated Mutasa's case as "unique and extraordinary" and established that the official "has continued to be unrepentant and has continued to issue statements which are unhelpful to him".

The party also expelled outspoken legislator Themba Mliswa "on an array of charges ranging from insubordination, denigrating national party leaders, extortionist behaviour".

The two join scores of ZANU-PF officials -- including party spokesman Rugare Gumbo, commissar Webster Shamu and war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda -- fired last year after being accused of siding with Mujuru.

Last year Mugabe also fired nine cabinet ministers and six deputy ministers aligned to the former deputy president Mujuru.

Once seen as favourite to step into Mugabe's shoes, Mujuru came under attack in 2014 -- notably from the increasingly powerful first lady Grace.