by Nelson Chenga
A HIGH stakes political game has exploded in ZANU-PF whereby cadres loyal to one of the factions vying to succeed President Robert Mugabe in the event that he vacates office are pushing to have national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere arrested over his handling of the country’s many Community Share Ownership Schemes (CSOSs).
The Weekly Financial Gazette has reported that Mayor Justice Wadyajena, the chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment is under increasing pressure from ZANU-PF hawks that feel threatened by Kasukuwere’s rising political stock to exert pressure on Parliament in order to have him investigated for his role in the CSOSs with a view to causing his arrest.
Despite his youthful age, Wadyajena has combined his financial clout, sharp tongue and extensive political connections to cause political tremors in ZANU-PF.
Towards the ZANU-PF congress held last year, he was one of the key architects behind former vice president Joice Mujuru’s downfall.
Mujuru was hounded out of both ZANU-PF and government on allegations of working against the incumbent.
As chairman of the Portfolio Committee on Indigenisation, Wadyajena has distinguished himself as one of the fiercest critics of the various empowerment transactions that were cobbled up between government and various foreign-owned companies in 2013, as government sought to involve previously marginalised groups in the mainstream economy.
The spotlight has particularly been on indigenisation deals involving mining companies namely the Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats), Mimosa, Blanket Mine and Unki — owned by Anglo America Corporation.
At the time these transactions were negotiated, Kasukuwere was the indigenisation minister.
Although the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Mudenda last year indicated that Wadyajena’s could not summon Kasukuwere to appear before his committee and answer questions pertaining to issues that happened when he was still minister of youth, indigenisation and economic empowerment, the committee thinks otherwise.
Kasukuwere’s first summons were linked to the US$1,8 billion indigenisation deals that were handled by Brainworks Capital Management but never materialised.
How Brainworks was given a tender to be a consultant for the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (NIEEB) without going to tender was one of the questions that Kasukuwere was supposed to answer before the committee.
Regardless of Mudenda’s advice, the committee has asked the ZANU-PF stalwart to come and answer questions on how the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Scheme was handled.Indications are that the committee intends to go beyond the Marange-Zimunya scheme to enquire from Kasukuwere how Brainworks came into the picture with regards to other empowerment transactions.
Under the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Scheme, some US$50 million was pledged, but only about half a million materialised ever since President Mugabe launched the scheme in 2012.
Wadyajena could not be contacted for comment. His mobile number was barred from all incoming calls.
However, that Brainworks chief executive officer, George Manyere, recently appeared before the committee professing ignorance over the government tender system and that his company was never paid a cent for their consultancy work, was quite telling of the brewing plot against Kasukuwere.
ZANU-PF informants said party snipers were angling to use the Parliament route to set their sights on Kasukuwere because he, along with Information Minister Jonathan Moyo were being seen as the brains behind an obscure faction going by the name Generation 40, or simply G40, which seeks to renew ZANU-PF from within.
Cadres linked to the G40 outfit have been under attack in recent weeks from the old guard in ZANU-PF because they are seen threatening the status quo.
Moyo’s status in Cabinet is currently mired in controversy after he was ordered not to attend Cabinet meetings by President Mugabe following his election as Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho North.
Before his election, he was a non-constituency MP.
Many observers believe that Moyo and Kasukuwere have been caught up in the succession conundrum that also claimed the scalps of Mujuru and several other ZANU-PF cadres linked to the ousted former vice president.
Kasukuwere and Moyo have previously denied belonging to G40 or any faction for that matter.
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is seen as the frontrunner in the race to succeed President Mugabe following the ouster of Mujuru.
Wadyajena is widely believed to be one of Mnangagwa’s confidantes.
Speculation is therefore that the Vice President could be using Wadyajena to rein in on Kasukuwere who is thought to be spiting cadres loyal to Mnangagwa in the restructuring of the party.
In fact, Manyere might have, wittingly or unwittingly, armed Kasukuwere’s foes when he said the entire indigenisation and economic empowerment process was all bottled smoke.
Of the 61 known CSOSs, only 16 are operational and only US$30 million, out of the pledged US$116,4 million, has been honoured by the companies.
After spending a year working on the Zimplats (US$971 million), Mimosa (US$550 million), Unki Mine (US$242 million) and Blanket Mine (US$18 million) transactions, Manyere said the deals failed and were abandoned.
“With all the costs of travel, accommodation and time spent negotiating with various companies, we never got compensated… we never got paid either by the company that was indigenised or by NIEEB,” said Manyere.
Manyere’s revealing submissions reportedly angered President Mugabe, who shuttled around the country commissioning several CSOSs that were linked to the indigenisation deals involving Brainworks.
The indigenisation programme, on which ZANU-PF had anchored its campaign and economic revival foundation, has become one of the battle grounds for ZANU-PF factional fights..
Attempts to nail Kasukuwere could however, run into serious legal hurdles.
For example, the NIEEB board, according to the Indigenisation, Economic and Empowerment Act, “shall not be responsible for any misconduct, mistake, oversight, error of judgment, forgetfulness or want of prudence on the part of the chief executive officer or any manager, legal practitioner, banker, liquidator, agent or other persons acting hereunder as agent or advice of the board, the chief executive officer or any manager”.
It therefore becomes difficult to target Kasukuwere without first taking NIEEB board to task. In this case, the Act seems to insulate the board from any liability.
However, political arrests have been quite common in Zimbabwe.
Several political actors have in the past been arrested on trumped up charges only for their cases to crumble for lacking merit.-Financial Gazette