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Street brawls between party members erupted on April 15 in the capital, Harare, with both sides attacking police officers who tried to stop the violence.

“This is clearly a co-ordinated effort designed not only to remove him, but to cause a mortal wound upon the G40 faction,” said Alex Magaisa, a UK-based law lecturer and one of the authors of Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution. “The only person who can save Kasukuwere now is Mugabe himself, but with almost the whole country calling for his expulsion, it’ll be hard for him.”

Kasukuwere’s phone was switched off and his office said he wasn’t in when called to seek comment.

While the party insists that Mugabe will stand for re-election next year, extending his 37-year rule of the country, key opposition politicians have announced they will form a coalition to challenge him. They’re making their unity bid at a time of deepening unrest because of widespread poverty, massive unemployment and the collapse of basic services.

Food shortages

Zimbabwe has been gripped by food shortages and a cash crunch that has delayed payment of salaries and prompted the central bank to introduce dollar-pegged bond notes that Zimbabweans have dubbed “zombie currency”.

The situation is so bad that education minister Lazarus Dokora suggested that parents who can’t afford school fees can pay with goats or their labour. A draft law before parliament would force commercial banks to accept cattle and other livestock as collateral for loans.