AFTER a month of political shadow-boxing between warring Zanu PF factions locked in a fierce succession power struggle, Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere (pictured) managed a dramatic narrow escape, largely because of President Robert Mugabe and First Lady Grace’s support.
By Hazel Ndebele
If Mugabe and Grace did not back Zanu PF’s G40 faction to maintain the balance of forces, Kasukuwere would not have survived.
Zanu PF has two rival factions battling to choose a successor for Mugabe who is increasingly struggling with old age frailty and ill-health. The G40 faction has coalesced around Grace, while Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa leads the other faction.
This comes as the party’s secretary for legal affairs Patrick Chinamasa sent out a circular to the ruling party’s provinces and wings on Tuesday urging party members to follow procedures laid out in the Zanu PF constitution when handling disciplinary cases and passing votes-of-no-confidence, a move largely seen as designed to address Kasukuwere’s issue.
The whole of April, Kasukuwere was in the eye of a storm, facing allegations of creating parallel structures and plotting to oust Mugabe. This came after former Zanu PF Women’s League deputy secretary Eunice Sandi-Moyo and former treasurer Sarah Mahoka were booted out of the executive on allegations of indiscipline and misappropriating funds.
Moyo was removed for her role in the succession battle in which she was said to have agreed to become a woman candidate for the Mnangagwa faction.
It appeared Kasukuwere, who had ambitions of becoming vice-president or president, was not going to survive. However, Mugabe’s determination to save Kasukuwere to avoid a power disequilibrium in Zanu PF became evident when he had a meeting with him a fortnight ago.
Insiders revealed that in that meeting, petitions which had been forwarded by different provinces supporting Kasukuwere’s ouster were discussed. Mugabe was reportedly not convinced that Kasukuwere wanted to topple him, concluding that the allegations were from his rivals.
The Zimbabwe Independent is reliably informed during a regular briefing on Monday this week between Mugabe, ministry of Information and security officials, Mugabe’s stance on the Kasukuwere case became even more clearer.
“At the regular briefing on Monday, Mugabe made it known that his view on Kasukuwere’s issue was that it had been handled unprocedurally and unconstitutionally.
“Mugabe said politburo members, according to the Zanu PF constitution, are appointed by him and therefore, as appointees, their stay in the office or removed is determined by him as the appointing authority,” a source said.
“Mugabe emphasised that the party constitution should be followed and as such, provinces cannot pass a vote-of-no-confidence on a politburo member, as there is no such provision in the constitution; it is not a prerogative of the provinces to do that but his.”
According to Zanu PF insiders, the Women’s League, led by Grace, also had a separate meeting on Monday at Mazowe in which they resolved not to meddle in the Kasukuwere issue. “Grace chaired the meeting which was attended by provincial chairpersons of the league. She told the women that they have no business in the Kasukuwere matter and that it will be handled by the main wing of the party,” a source said.
Sources also said Grace emphasised that the removal of Mahoka and Moyo had nothing to do with the Kasukuwere case.
However, Grace reportedly said those levelling allegations against Kasukuwere should be given the chance to substantiate their claims.
Informed sources told the Independent that Kasukuwere, who is in the same faction as Grace, had initially offended her by showing ambitions to succeed Mugabe at her expense. Grace is understood to be manoeuvring to land the vice-president’s post on the women’s quota ticket and ultimately to become president.
Kasukuwere is seen by his rivals as over-ambitious and hence, his purges of structures.
Sources told this paper that ring leaders who wanted Kasukuwere to lose his post were mainly from Mashonaland Central comprising the Provincial Affairs minister Martin Dinha, expelled youth member Godfrey Gomwe and Bindura North Member of the National Assembly Kenneth Musanhi, among others. However, according to those close to the developments, the main architect of Kasukuwere’s problems was the Mnangagwa faction which wants him replaced as political commissar with someone from their camp, preferably with a military background.
G40 members say the Mnangagwa faction wants to prove they are in control of Zanu PF and the party’s internal processes at a critical time in the succession race.
“The Mnangagwa camp wants to create an impression that they are in charge of Zanu PF. They in fact want to stampede Mugabe to remove Kasukuwere and reshape the politburo in their own image with their ally taking over the commissariat,” another source said. The sources also claim that the pressure to remove Kasukuwere is designed to target and weaken those supporting Grace, while also targeting Mugabe.
The sources said the tactic used by the Mnangagwa faction was to organise effective demonstrations in all party provinces and deploy resources mostly funded from businesspersons benefitting from government projects and tenders.
“The Mnangagwa faction had put in place machinery to deal with those standing in their path to power,” said the source.
“They wanted to force out Kasukuwere, they were also targeting Zanu PF secretary of administration and minister of Home Affairs Ignatius Chombo accusing him of backing Mugabe,” the source said.
Kasukuwere is seen by his rivals as a political bulldozer who tried to decimate Mnangagwa’s structures and purge his allies to position himself in the succession race.