Fired lieutenants of Zimbabwe's ex-vice president Joice Mujuru have hit back at their former boss, saying that she cannot sack them from the opposition Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF), as they are elders of the party.
Mujuru announced on Wednesday, during a press conference, that she had expelled seven of her key allies from her ZimPF party, which she formed following her dismissal from both the ruling Zanu-PF and government.
She accused them of being "agents" of President Robert Mugabe's regime and that they were derailing the struggle for the democratisation of the southern African country.
Those expelled were former state security minister Didymas Mutasa, former Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, former Masvingo provincial affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, former water minister Munacho Mutezo, former president of the now defunct Zimbabwe Union of Democrats, Margaret Dongo as well retired brigadier Claudious Makova and one Luckson Kandemiri.
This came at a time when the party was preparing to hold its inaugural congress in March this year.
But addressing their own conference at the party offices in Harare, Mutasa, who used to be Mujuru's confidante rubbished her utterances, saying he now doubted her leadership qualities.
"Mujuru is not a leader, we are fed up of her dictatorial tendencies," said Mutasa.
The expelled members said they would continue to lead the opposition party effectively.
Former Masvingo provincial affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti said that Mujuru had in fact dismissed herself from the party by expelling the seven party cadres.
"She has dismissed herself from the party, she can't fire elders," said Bhasikiti.
Retired Brigadier Claudious Makova weighed in, saying Mujuru had effected a "bedroom coup" but refused to give more details.
"We told her that the party was not happy under her leadership but she has decided to effect a bedroom coup. She surrounds herself with those of the Nzou totem," said Makova.
Makova added that it was better in Zanu-PF where they were given letters of expulsion than in Zimbabwe where they would be advised of their dismissal through a press conference.
It, however, remained unclear which of the two groups would be organising the party's congress following the split.