Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said he banished a longtime ally because the man plotted to overthrow him with witchcraft.
The bizarre statement was made after Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former deputy, fled Zimbabwe claiming he was being threatened.
Experts say Mugabe, 93, got rid of his former right-hand man so that his wife Grace can take over the country after his death. Grace is expected to be appointed vice president at a special ruling party congress next month.
“No one will remove the president except God,” Grace Mugabe told a large crowd of supporters on Wednesday after news of Mnangagwa’s ouster became public.
“I love my president. I will help him to make the country prosper.”
This isn’t the first time that Mugabe has used witchcraft as an excuse to get rid of a political rival.
Joice Mujuru, who Mnangagwa replaced as deputy in 2014, was also accused of using magic to plot against his president.
Addressing a large audience on Wednesday, Mugabe drew a comparison between his two former deputies and accused Mnangagwa of waiting impatiently for him to die so that he could seize control of the country.
“We have kicked [Mnangagwa] out for the same reasons that saw us chasing away Mujuru,” Mugabe told the crowd. “He started consulting traditional healers on when I was going to die.”
Mnangagwa, meanwhile, has announced that he plans to return to Zimbabwe and regain his position of power.