A CLIQUE has emerged in Zanu PF pushing for leadership renewal beginning in the Youth League and cascading down to the main wing of the party as the succession battle continues to rage on ahead of the December congress.
The force led by, among others, Youth minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Transport minister Nicholas Goche, Zanu PF youth director Patrick Zhuwao and Mashonaland West executive member Themba Mliswa, is reportedly pushing for major leadership changes in the partyâ€™s Youth and Womenâ€™s League, central committee and the politburo â€” in a move meant to create a formidable and saleable party in the event of fresh national elections.
Fresh polls are not expected to take place even if a new constitution is promulgated within the first two years of the inclusive government.
Impeccable sources in Zanu PF told the Zimbabwe Independent that the force was also positioning Kasukuwere to take over the leadership of the party in the future and gun for national power.
The sources said the clique has begun a nationwide campaign in support of the retention of President Robert Mugabe, Vice-President Joice Mujuru and minister John Nkomo in the Zanu PF presidium at the congress to block the ascendancy of Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa is tipped to become national chairman if Nkomo succeeds in replacing Vice-President Joseph Msika who died on Wednesday. The sources said the plot to block Mnangagwa or any of his faction members from the presidium was in place even before the death of the veteran nationalist.
Mnangagwa leads a faction fighting to succeed Mugabe with another camp headed by retired army general Solomon Mujuru. The Kasukuwere team is another faction which backs Mugabe for its own ends, but does not support either Mnangagwa or Mujuru.
â€œThe group is pushing for renewal of the Youth League as a precursor to the renewal of the other structures upwards,â€ one of the sources said. â€œThe Kasukuwere group backs Joice Mujuru to remain in the presidium because they see her as weak and not a threat to their interests in the party.â€
The Mnangagwa faction has reportedly lined up Womenâ€™s League boss Oppah Muchinguri to wrestle the vice-presidency from Mujuru at the congress.
Before taking Mujuru head on, Muchinguri would have to fight with Womenâ€™s Affairs minister Olivia Muchena for the Womenâ€™s League chair. Muchena is a close ally of Mujuru.
The sources said Kasukuwere has since been nicknamed â€œObamaâ€ by his camp, which has so far reportedly won the support of Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central and Bulawayo provinces who have endorsed the current Zanu PF presidium to retain power at the December congress.
The sources said the Kasukuwere faction was working tirelessly to influence the leadership of the Youth League, which holds its elective four-day national conference beginning August 20.
The conference would, for the first time, enforce the partyâ€™s constitution that the leaders and members of the league should not be above 30 years of age.
This would see Kasukuwere stepping down as the leagueâ€™s deputy secretary and his group has lined up a former Mnangagwa faction member, Anastancia Ndhlovu, to take over from him.
Ndhlovu, Shurugwi MP and the leagueâ€™s deputy secretary for administration, fell out of favour with the Mnangagwa camp, which is reportedly battling to secure a suitable candidate to contest against her.
Kasukuwere is reportedly eyeing the post of national political commissar that became vacant after the death of Elliot Manyika last year.
Zanu PF insiders said the Kasukuwere faction was positioning itself to be in charge of Zanu PF when fresh polls take place most probably in 2013 after Mugabe has finished his full term in office.
Indications are that Mugabe and deputy premier Arthur Mutambara are opposed to early elections as they are afraid of being humiliated by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC party.
Speaking at the launch of the Independentâ€™s Zimbabwe Quoted Companies Survey 2009 yesterday, Mutambara said the global political agreement did not specify when fresh polls would be held.
The deputy premier said: â€œWe are not looking at having elections soon, not in the next two years. If the environment is not conducive to a free and fair election, where losers will congratulate winners, the GNU (government of national unity) will continue. If we had said we will have elections in the next 18 months, some of us willÂ play politics and start campaigning instead of focusing on national healing.â€
Already, the constitution-making process â€” expected to lead to fresh polls â€” has reportedly been stalled by infighting between the 25-member parliamentary select committee, the administration and Constitutional Affairs minister Eric Matinenga over control of the process.
The committee has since the first stakeholders conference three week ago failed to set up 16 thematic committees to drive the consultative process, a move that will delay the drafting of the new supreme law.
BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE