The Zimbabwean government has reportedly hit out at former minister of higher education Professor Jonathan Moyo over claims he made on a BBC current affairs programme that former president Robert Mugabe was ousted by a "military coup".
Moyo, who spoke to BBC's Hardtalk from an undisclosed location after he slipped out of the country when the army took over control last year, said that Zimbabwe's new president Emmerson Mnangagwa stole power and was leading an "illegal regime".
"Mnangagwa and [Vice President Constantino] Chiwenga, they know only too well that they have come into power via the bullet and not the ballot," Moyo said.
Moyo said that the southern African country had a constitution that Zimbabweans "made for themselves and it has been broken and it has been broken via a coup".
But presidential spokesperson George Charamba dismissed Moyo's claims as "rantings of a bitter man".
According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, Charamba, who spoke during an interview with a private radio station Capitalk on Thursday, said that the issue of legitimacy or illegitimacy could not be determined by a "bitter professor".
"... So really the issue of legitimacy or illegitimacy does not arise. You saw what happened at Zimbabwe Grounds; you saw what happened by way of an-across the political spectrum support.' The action that had been mounted, mounted to avert a major crisis that was actually a creation by people like Jonathan Moyo. So really this is a bitter, bitter defeated politician who suffers from what the late Eddison Zvobgo would have called 'power denial psychosis'," Charamba was quoted as saying.
A New Zimbabwe.com report cited Charamba as saying that Moyo was part of a "cabal" that had taken advantage of Mugabe.
"The military stepped in to stop the cabal that had tried to take advantage of the former president to launch itself into power it had never legally campaigned for," Charamba said.
Moyo was one of the leading figures of the Generation 40 (G40) faction within Zanu-PF that was promoting former first lady Grace Mugabe to take over from her husband until he was ousted during the November 15 military takeover and replaced with Mnangagwa.