World

Zimbabwe vice president, once talked about as a Mugabe successor, is now a political pariah

  • Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe sweats as he leaves the podium after delivering his speech during the official opening of the Zanu pf 6th National Congress in Harare, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014.  Mugabe attacked his deputy President Joice Mujuru aledging she plotted to remove him from power.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

    Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe sweats as he leaves the podium after delivering his speech during the official opening of the Zanu pf 6th National Congress in Harare, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. Mugabe attacked his deputy President Joice Mujuru aledging she plotted to remove him from power.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)  (The Associated Press)

  • Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe delivers his speech during the official opening of the  Zanu pf 6th National Congress in Harare, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. Mugabe attacked his deputy President Joice Mujuru aledging she plotted to remove him from power.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

    Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe delivers his speech during the official opening of the Zanu pf 6th National Congress in Harare, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. Mugabe attacked his deputy President Joice Mujuru aledging she plotted to remove him from power.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)  (The Associated Press)

  • Supporters of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe chant the Zanu pf party slogan during the official opening of the  Zanu pf 6th National Congress in Harare, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014.  Mugabe attacked his deputy President Joice Mujuru alleging she plotted to remove him from power.  (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

    Supporters of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe chant the Zanu pf party slogan during the official opening of the Zanu pf 6th National Congress in Harare, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. Mugabe attacked his deputy President Joice Mujuru alleging she plotted to remove him from power. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)  (The Associated Press)

Zimbabwe's vice president was a rebel commander during the war against white rulers and, at the age of 25, became the youngest Cabinet minister after independence. Now she is a political pariah, accused of plotting the downfall of President Robert Mugabe.

The rise and fall of Vice President Joice Mujuru follows a pattern repeated over the years under 90-year-old Mugabe, a shrewd operator who has ousted rivals and cracked down on opponents during his long rule, dodging repeated predictions of his political demise.

On Saturday, a ruling party congress is expected to announce new leadership that will reinforce Mugabe's grip on power and reveal his possible successor. A frontrunner is Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who suffered the same treatment as Mujuru a decade ago but is back in favor.