ZANU PF factional and succession power struggles are now spilling into government business with ministers crossing swords in cabinet last week as the internal strife spiralled out of control.
By Elias Mambo/Wongai Zhangazha
Informal officials said this week there was an intensely robust debate and clashes during the meeting last week on Tuesday which was triggered by Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere’s complaint that some people were trying to lynch him over Zanu PF’s loss to independent candidate Temba Mliswa in the Norton parliamentary by-election last month. Kasukuwere also reportedly complained about what he sees as a systematic negative publicity and character assassination against him and his allies.
Some Zanu PF supporters believe they lost the seat, which fell vacant following the expulsion from the party of outspoken war veterans leader Christopher Mutsvangwa, because Mliswa capitalised on Zanu PF divisions which have been worsened by corruption and factionalism.
Kasukuwere was accused of rigging the Norton by-election primaries in favour of a candidate linked to the G40 faction, much to the dismay of rival group which is understood to be fronted by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Sources said Kasukuwere complained that some people were trying to blame him as if the elections were an individual project whereas it was a party issue. He also complained about negative publicity against him by the state media, especially Zimpapers.
This week, Kasukuwere, in a US$7 million defamation lawsuit filed against Zimpapers and its reporters, accused the state-controlled newspapers of peddling lies about him in an effort to give one faction an upper hand in Zanu PF succession politics.
“Kasukuwere said in cabinet some people were attacking him for factional reasons and these people really wanted a political fight which he said he was ready for as it was better for people to settle scores rather than insulting each other. He challenged people to a showdown,” one official said.
“He was supported by (Women’s Affairs minister Nyasha) Chikwinya who also complained bitterly that there were people who were harassing others over politics and on factional lines. Chikwinya supported Kasukuwere’s complaint about being blamed for the Norton affair and questioned why ‘our’ newspapers were writing bad things about fellow party members. (Indigenisation minister Patrick) Zhuwao also complained that they were being persecuted for supporting President Robert Mugabe by those who want him to go in the party.”
Another official said Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Chris Mushohwe defended the state media, saying they were merely doing their job.
Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, according to another source, complained that some ministers were only reporting to Mnangagwa and not him, highlighting that this needed to be corrected.
After Mugabe appointed the two vice-presidents in 2014, he outlined their duties and the specific areas they should direct so as to accelerate the implementation of the country’s ambitious economic blueprint, ZimAsset.
Ministries that fall under Mnangagwa include Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development; Health and Child Care; Lands and Rural Resettlement; Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare; Mines and Mining Development; Tourism and Hospitality Industry; Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development; Sport, Arts and Culture and Small to Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development.
Mphoko, who is also responsible for national healing, is in charge of all the security ministries that include Home Affairs, Defence and Presidential Affairs.
He also oversees the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development; Foreign Affairs; Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment; Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development; Energy and Power Development; Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development; Information, Media and Broadcasting Services and Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services.
“After Mphoko complained, (minister of Macro-economic Planning and Investment Promotion Obert) Mpofu said sometimes the problem is that some ministers will be trying to avoid being roped into factional things, therefore they stay away from reporting. Mpoko demanded an explanation on what he was saying, but then Mpofu excused himself and asked Mugabe if he could go to the toilet. He later came back after the battle had subsided,” the source said.