HARARE – Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere faces the political fight of his life after war veterans savaged him mercilessly on Tuesday ahead of the next crucial politburo meeting expected to take place soon at which the over weening ambition of the party’s Young Turks will come under the spotlight.
So bad could things ultimately turn for Kasukuwere that a senior Zanu PF official told the Daily News last night that, “Tyson (Kasukuwere’s nickname) is a dead man walking” — adding that, “unless the dynamics change very quickly in his favour him, his end is nigh”.
Other well-placed sources also told the Daily News yesterday that President Robert Mugabe, his influential wife Grace, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other senior politburo members like secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo were “not happy” with Kasukuwere who faced the real danger of being booted out of the party.
This was after war veterans openly and surprisingly accused the youthful Cabinet minister on Tuesday of “creating another centre of power” in an alleged bid to grab power from Mugabe.
Kasukuwere, who is also referred to as Obama by other party Young Turks who operate as the Generation 40 (G40) group, in reference to Barack Obama who defied all odds to become the first black president of the United States, is said to harbour ambitions for higher office — a move that has put him in the firing line of senior colleagues.
Members of the G40 and Gang of Four, working with Grace, masterminded the toppling of former Vice President Joice Mujuru as they saw the popular widow of liberation war icon General Solomon Mujuru as a stumbling block to their ambitions.
But no sooner had Mujuru fallen that Zanu PF split into two distinct and bitterly-opposed formations — with one initially led by Mnangagwa but also fragmenting, and the other by disaffected liberation struggle stalwarts who now operate as Zanu PF “People First”.
In their unexpected move on Tuesday, war veterans held a Press conference in Harare where they lashed Kasukuwere viciously, saying they would not allow him to take over power from Mugabe.
In addition, a war veteran and Zanu PF politburo member Oppah Muchinguri, who was part of the original Gang of Four, also recently fingered the G40 as responsible for the turmoil that continues to dog the ruling party — further accusing them of wanting to take over power from Mugabe and not wanting Mnangagwa as both party and State VP.
Similarly, Zanu PF Harare youth chairperson Godwin Gomwe, who is closely linked to Grace, has also rallied against Kasukuwere’s move to impose a relatively unknown party candidate, Terence Mukupe, in the capital city to represent it in Harare East in the forthcoming by-elections.
Kasukuwere defiantly ignored a directive by senior officials, who worked through Chombo, that the party be represented in Harare East by Mavis Gumbo.
Embarrassingly, Zanu PF will now field two candidates in the poll after Mukupe successfully appealed to the courts, against party policy, to also represent the party.
To further complicate Kasukuwere’s life, Mnangagwa’s supporters allege that the Gang of Four and G40 members, of which the national commissar is said to be a leading member, are complaining that they were not rewarded adequately for masterminding the demise of Mujuru and her allies on murky allegations of plotting to oust and kill Mugabe.
It is further claimed that Zanu PF hardliners are using Kasukuwere’s position and influence in the party, as well as its ongoing restructuring exercise and the controversial nomination of candidates for the June 10 by-elections, to strategically position themselves and their allies in the party and government in their alleged bid to outwit Mnangagwa and his allies.
It is also widely believed in the party that this is what has prompted the Mnangagwa camp to move, through the likes of Chombo, to reverse many of Kasukuwere’s decisions — including overturning the results of party primary elections which favour the Young Turks.
“Tyson is in the doo-doo with the leaders. The politburo meeting will decide whether he survives all this, which is looking increasingly unlikely if you analyse the events of the past few days alone,” a senior Zanu PF official said.
Pedzisai Ruhanya, a political analyst, said Kasukuwere would most likely be taken to task at the politburo meeting because he had angered Mugabe and other senior party officials.
“The problem with Kasukuwere and his group is that they don’t understand or appreciate how Zanu PF functions. When you see or hear some elements in Zanu PF making some statements it must ring alarm bells to Kasukuwere and his colleagues as this reflects the thinking of the party leader.
“You read Mugabe’s thinking from statements from the youths, women and war veterans. When they speak you know that it is the centre speaking,” he said.
Ruhanya further said the current ructions in Zanu PF were as a result of the continued weakening of party structures — although he added that Mugabe still held a lot of sway in the party.
“What is clear from the going-ons in Zanu PF is that there is low internal party cohesion, particularly elite cohesion among the leadership. So in such a situation Mugabe should confront rebellion as the authority.
“While signs are there that the president is ageing, he is still the centre of power and there is no authority breakdown. Although some party members may be fighting and causing all sorts of noise it is Mugabe who will prevail and have the final say,” Ruhanya said.
Maxwell Saungweme, another political analyst, also said Mugabe was likely to haul Kasukuwere before hot coals in the next politburo meeting.
“It’s likely to be an explosive meeting where Kasukuwere and others will be reigned on. Some political careers will be drastically changed after this meeting,” he said.
Another political analyst, Dewa Mavhinga, said the current fights in Zanu PF were linked to the succession issue.
“What is happening in Zanu PF is a continuation a vicious battle to succeed Mugabe which the expulsion of Joice Mujuru and the elevation of Mnangagwa failed to decisively resolve.
“It is a continuation of the deterioration and disintegration of the party which will be characterised by more infighting and jostling for advantage at the upcoming politburo meetings.
“Unfortunately, these Zanu PF meetings never focus on substantive issues to improve the lives of Zimbabweans. All they do is spend hours and hours talking about petty party positions.
“Zanu PF should devote serious attention to finding Itai Dzamara and to improving the human rights and economic environment for all,” Mavhinga said.