Morgan Tsvangirai, an opposition leader in Zimbabwe has told South-African media that the 91-year old President Mugabe has lost his power and has been effectively replaced by his own wife, Grace Mugabe. Tsvangirai claims Grace has “surreptitiously but willingly” taken charge after a palace coup, as members of the leading party are trying to position themselves as Mugabe’s successor. “No one in government is thinking of solutions to the national challenges as everyone is preoccupied with issues of who will succeed this tired man steering the ship of state,” Tsvangirai told South Africa’s Mail and Guardian newspaper. While her husband has become increasingly frail, Grace has emerged as a more public figure on Zimbabwe’s political scene recently, taking up a key position in the ruling party last December, traveling to rallies across the country and lashing out against her husband’s critics. Mugabe’s recent missteps — such as reading the wrong speech without realizing it — have fueled rumors about his deteriorating mental and physical condition, causing a furious behind-the-scenes succession battle, despite the president’s warnings that the jockeying for power “threatens to split the party”. According to local media, two camps have formed — one around army chief Emmerson Mnangagwa and one around Grace Mugabe, who has managed to rally some younger party members around her. Nevertheless, she is rather unpopular with the broader public, due in part to excessive overseas shopping trips, while people in her impoverished country are recovering from a devastating period of hyperinflation.
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