FIREWORKS explosively erupted on Wednesday in the Zanu PF politburo, the ruling party’s de facto highest decision-making body between congresses, as party bigwigs clashed over the fate of national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, accused of plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe, among a litany of other sensational charges, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
Top sources told the Independent — the country’s leading investigative paper — the meeting, which took off under a tense atmosphere, began with squabbles in the preliminary stages over the issue of a smart board, an interactive whiteboard that uses touch detection for user input like a normal personal computer device, which had been brought into the boardroom. Kasukuwere was not in the meeting.
Sources said Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo had asked for permission to bring the smart board which was to be used to play videos as part of Kasukuwere’s defence led by Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo.
“Obert Mpofu (Policy Co-ordination minister), after consultations with Vice- President Emmerson Mnangagwa and State Security minister Kembo Mohadi, raised objections as to why the smart board was brought there,” a source said.
The source also said Mohadi requested that the smart board be removed as such technological devices could be used to record the politburo proceedings, although he later confirmed there was security clearance for it.
Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko objected to Mpofu and Mohadi’s demand, saying there was no need to take away the smart board because in the past Zanu PF had used equipment in its proceedings, including microphones.
“Mugabe then said there was no problem with the smart board being in the boardroom,” a senior politburo official said. “After that the meeting proceeded.”
However, this was not before Information minister Chris Mushohwe interjected, saying he also had videos of Kasukuwere insulting him and journalists.
Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said she also had a video in which Kasukuwere attacked her.
Officials said after that Chombo then presented the report compiled by a five- member committee chaired by Jacob Mudenda, a lawyer by training, which was tasked with investigating allegations against Kasukuwere.
The Mudenda report found that Kasukuwere had set up parallel structures in Mashonaland Central province, pushed irregular and unprocedural co-option of party members, mishandled party assets and funds, engaged in nepotism, got entangled in mining disputes and ran down the province which it said was in a shambolic state, although it could not find “a nexus between the allegation of parallel structures and the plot to oust the president”.
Moyo, a professor of politics and currently a student of law, then requested to speak after Chombo had read the report to the meeting.
“Moyo basically acted as Kasukuwere’s lawyer. He dealt with issues from a legalistic perspective, although his agenda was political. The first thing he did was to dismiss the notion that Kasukuwere, his brother Dick Mafios (acting provincial chairman) and Wonder Mashange (provincial administration secretary) were accused persons as the Mudenda report referred to them as. He said they were not the accused as it was not a criminal case.
“Then Moyo went on to the issue of the petition against Kasukuwere. He said for a start it was not provided for in the Zanu PF constitution, which means it must be declared void ab initio. Besides, he asked how could 4 500 demonstrators, comprising Zanu PF members and supporters as the report said, compile a legitimate petition? He said in terms of the party’s constitution there is no provision for supporters, but only members, hence the petition — even if it was to be assumed it wasn’t a nullity — would not meet the basic and elementary test of credibility, independence, transparency, valid signatures or attestation, lawful demands and the need for it to be free of fraud, malice and other abuses.
“Moyo argued the petition was a nullity, and so there was no need for the meeting to proceed with a debate on the basis of a nullity. Quoting case law, a ruling by the late Justice Wilson Sandura, Moyo said: ‘If an act is void, then it is in law a nullity. It is not only bad, but incurably bad. It is automatically null and void without much ado; every proceeding which is founded on its basis is also bad and in fact incurably bad.’
“He then went on to say: ‘You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to hold. It will collapse’.”
Another source said Moyo then latched on an admission in Mudenda’s report that there were no quorums when the provincial executive committee (PEC) and provincial co-ordinating committee (PCC) endorsed the petition.
“He said the PEC and PCC endorsed a nullity without quorums; and without quorums meetings cannot legally proceed and without proceedings there cannot be any endorsements and in any case even if there were endorsements they would also be a nullity, which means they would automatically be void ab initio. Moyo proceeded to say that meant the Mudenda committee’s findings and recommendations were also a nullity, rendering the meeting on the issue an exercise in futility.”
In the process, Mudenda reportedly became emotional and interjected, saying Moyo was defending a corrupt individual who had mismanaged party funds and assets, while running down the province. Mudenda also accused Kasukuwere of corruption by being the sole signatory to the province’s bank accounts. He recommended that Kasukuwere should “stop forthwith” being a signatory to the provincial bank accounts and the politburo should take corrective measures against him.
But Moyo was unrelenting, as he demanded Mudenda should produce evidence to back his allegations. He also said the Mudenda committee’s findings were merely untested allegations which could not inform recommendations, let alone resolutions.
Mnangagwa, who is also a lawyer, demanded that based on the Mudenda report, there should be new elections in Mashonaland Central, a suggestion which was rejected.
On nepotism, Mugabe reportedly grumbled, saying: “Zvino ingava province kana vanhu vese vari vekwaKasukuwere chete chete … moti apa pana mukoma waKasukuwere apo pane munin’ina. (Can this be a province where all party officials are from the Kasukuwere clan).”
However, Moyo was undeterred.
“Cde Mudenda’s report merely reproduces allegations against Cde Kasukuwere and badly fails to verify and corroborate these allegations, yet it strangely purports to make findings and recommendations on the basis of those untested allegations. It bizarrely treats the same allegations as evidence; it’s a shoddy job and a gross injustice.
“Moreover, it’s shocking and most unfortunate that Cde Mudenda’s report refers to Cdes Kasukuwere, Mafios and Mashange as accused persons. That shows inherent bias and malice as this is not a criminal case. Cde Mudenda’s probe is not a criminal inquiry; it was supposed to be a fact-finding mission, but lost its purpose in the mist of factionalism and started collecting unverified grievances in a partisan mission to smear those wrongly described as accused persons in the first place.
“The real question which arises out of all this is: who is behind this nullity? The obvious answer is VP Mnangagwa and we must now deal with his succession scheme which has become so brazen and dangerous.”
Towards the end of the meeting, Mphoko upped the ante, saying the Kasukuwere’s issue was a sub-plot in a sinister power politics plot engulfing Zanu PF.
“Mphoko said ‘President, the issue is that there are now two factions: one plotting to remove you and the other defending you; that’s the issue here and we must deal with that’.”
As Mphoko spoke, there were massive howls of protests by Mnangagwa’s allies. But he persisted. Mphoko dramatised the issue, saying at the commissioning of the Tokwe Mukorsi Dam in Masvingo province last month, Josaya Hungwe, a Mnangagwa loyalist, said it would be better to have the MDC-T vice-president Nelson Chamisa as the Zanu PF commissar than Kasukuwere.
“The politburo and cabinet are full of people who want you out, Cde President; they are also in control of state institutions. The same people who are against you in the politburo are the same persons who oppose you in cabinet,” he said.
After Mphoko turned the tables against Mnangagwa, Moyo requested that a special session be convened to discuss factionalism and succession. Mugabe concluded the meeting, saying the Zanu PF presidium will eventually decide Kasukuwere’s fate, while Moyo will soon be given an opportunity to present a succession case against Mnangagwa in an extraordinary politburo session.