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Zanu PF reduces youth age limit

Constantine Chimakure

ZANU PF has agreed to limit the age of members of its youth wing to 30 years in a move that will see the ouster of deputy ministers Saviour Kasukuw

ere and Patrick Zhuwao, among others.

Sources in the party said the decision to put a cap on age was made at a politburo meeting on July 5 to clip the wings of the youth league which was getting entangled in the contentious presidential succession debate in Zanu PF.

The succession battle has seen the emergence of three factions in the party, one fighting for the continued stay in power of President Robert Mugabe, the other backing Vice-President Joice Mujuru, and the third rooting for Rural Amenities minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Kasukuwere and Zhuwao are linked to the pro-Mugabe faction and were reportedly using the youth league to promote their agenda.

“The age limit was agreed on after it was realised that the league had become too powerful,” a source said. “It was now behaving like the main wing of the party.”

The source added that the Mujuru faction pushed through the proposal, arguing that Kasukuwere was using his vast wealth to exercise influence in the youth league.

Kasukuwere has business interests in the oil, transport and farming industries and is currently the deputy secretary of youth affairs in the politburo.

Zhuwao is Mugabe’s nephew and is a close ally of Kasukuwere.

“The two were running the league. Most of the wing’s decisions were coming from Kasukuwere and Zhuwao. Their continued stay in the youth league was unwelcome,” another source said.

The source said the age cap would not affect the secretary for youth affairs in the politburo, Absolom Sikhosana, because he was a Mugabe appointee.

Last week, Sikhosana declined to comment on the matter to the Zimbabwe Independent, accusing it of being part of the so-called regime change agenda.

However, he told the Zanu PF mouthpiece, The Voice, that the youth league would soon embark on a restructuring exercise in line with the party constitution.

“This has always been there in our constitution, that if you are above the age of 30 you would have graduated from the youth league to the main wing,” Sikhosana told The Voice. “We have not been following this provision, but we are now going to ensure that it is implemented and this should see us restructuring our organs.”

However, a perusal of Zanu PF’s constitution revealed that never at any stage was there an age cap on membership of the youth league.

Last Friday, Kasukuwere complained that the Independent was out to destroy his political career.

“What wrong have I done to you? Some of us do not want to speak to newspapers,” said the Mount Darwin South legislator.

Meanwhile, the auditing and restructuring of Zanu PF arms in Harare is in limbo amid reports that the ruling party is failing to garner support to set up cells, branches and districts.

Sources said efforts to create the arms of the party over the past two months have hit a brickwall.

“It is proving difficult to carry out the restructuring. Members of the party have shunned the exercise. They don’t attend meetings and we wonder what strategy we should employ to carry out the exercise,” a member of the provincial executive said.

He said a series of meetings had been lined up in the capital to convince the party members to be actively involved in the restructuring exercise.

The restructuring of the party, the executive member said, would culminate in the election of a substantive provincial executive committee.

Currently Harare is run by a co-opted provincial executive committee chaired by Mines minister Amos Midzi.

Sources in the party said a substantive executive committee could not be elected into office before the creation of cells, branches and districts throughout the province.

“Those elected into cells, branches and districts constitute the provincial electoral college, which elects the executive committee,” one of the sources said. “Given the state of affairs, it appears Harare will not be able to restructure before the end of the year — the deadline set by the party’s national commissariat.”

Recently, Midzi said the auditing and restructuring exercise was still on-going.

Teams led by politburo members were last August mandated to conduct the restructuring of the party arms in their respective provinces.

The restructuring was expected to strengthen the party structures ahead of next year’s local authority, parliamentary and presidential polls.

This has seen the election of new provincial executive committees in all provinces except Bulawayo and Harare.

While the party is struggling to restructure in Harare, the sources said jockeying for the provincial chairmanship has begun in the capital.

The sources said Midzi wanted to retain the chairmanship, but was facing stiff challenge from politburo member Tendai Savanhu and diplomat Christopher Mutsvangwa.

Midzi reportedly belongs to the Mujuru faction, while Savanhu favours Mugabe’s continued stay in power.

Mutsvangwa reportedly enjoys the support of Mnangagwa.

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