HARARE - Zimbabwe’s ruling party has suspended two senior officials and expelled another as tensions over President Robert Mugabe’s succession intensify ahead of a key congress next month, media reported Friday. The state-owned Herald newspaper said ZANU-PF politburo suspended spokesman Rugare Gumbo and lawmaker Enoch Porusingazi for five years, while war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda was expelled. “I can confirm the suspensions,” Psychology Maziwisa, the ZANU-PF party deputy party spokesman told AFP declining to comment further. ZANU-PF has been riven by factional feuding over the successor of 90-year-old Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980.

Gumbo and Porusingazi are seen as sympathising with Vice-President Joice Mujuru, accused by Mugabe’s wife Grace of plotting to topple the long-ruling president.

Sibanda refused to join Grace Mugabe’s entourage when she went on a nationwide tour launching tirades against her opponents.