Robert Mugabe has fired his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, for showing traits of "disloyalty, disrespect and deceitfulness".
Information Minister Simon Khaya Moyo said in a statement that Mugabe exercised "his constitutional mandate" by firing Mnangagwa who has recently crossed paths with the First Family.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa was removed from office "with immediate effect", the government said, opening the way to the possible appointment of Grace Mugabe to the post.
"It had become evident that his conduct in the discharge of his duties had become inconsistent with his official responsibilities".
It also provides a boost for Mugabe's wife, Grace, who has been a vocal critic of the vice president and is also seen as a potential successor to her husband.More news: Phishing scam targets millions of Netflix subscribers
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"In 1980 this person called Mnangagwa wanted to stage a coup. That man is a ravisher", said Grace.
Mr Mugabe, 93, has been president of Zimbabwe since 1987 and was prime minister for seven years before that.
Relations soured between the two men in August after hints by Mnangagwa's allies that he had been poisoned by ice cream from a dairy owned by the Mugabes.
Phelekezela Mphoko, another close Mugabe comrade, continues to serve as Zimbabwe's second vice president.