ZANU-PF national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, has chickened out of the vicious infighting in Midlands province, as warring party members in Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s home province tear each other apart.
Squabbles in the province reached boiling point last week after some party hawks sought to oust at least three senior officials for their alleged links to one of the factions seeking to upset the other in ZANU-PF’s malevolent succession war.
A series of messy events in the province and elsewhere have betrayed ZANU-PF denials that factionalism does not exist within its ranks, a position that was constantly emphasised at its annual conference held in Victoria Falls last month.
It is believed that Mnangagwa, who many thought was a shoo-in to take over from President Robert Mugabe whenever he decides to exit the political arena, is under serious threat from a camp of youthful and middle-aged politicians calling themselves Generation 40 (G40).
Midlands provincial political commissar, Makhosini Hlongwane, who is also the Minister for Sports and Recreation; Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Tapiwa Matangaidze; and Tourism and Hospitality Industry Deputy Minister, Annastacia Ndhlovu, are under fire for allegedly disrespecting the province’s political leadership and hobnobbing with G40.
Allegations against the trio flew when they formed part of an entourage that trailed First Lady Grace Mugabe on her nationwide political crusades late last year.
G40 is believed to be pushing for the return of women’s representation in the ZANU-PF presidium. The move would come at the expense of Mnangagwa, whom G40 is targeting to have demoted to make way for their preferred woman candidate.
At the conference, the women resolved to push that agenda to succeed this year.
The presidium comprises of President Mugabe and his two deputies, Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko.
Despite spirited efforts by some party leaders in the Midlands Provincial Coordinating Committee to suspend Hlongwane, Ndhlovu and Matangaidze from the party during their meeting in Gweru last Friday, the trio survived.
This was after the three jointly wrote a letter to Kasukuwere and Mphoko seeking protection from other party members, alleging that they were being victimised for refusing to submit “to an alternative narrative”.
The letter was duly read as treasonous by their opponents, reportedly fronted by deputy national secretary for administration, July Moyo, whom Hlongwane reportedly accuses of seeking to wrest the Mberengwa East legislative seat from him.
Kasukuwere apparently did not officially respond to the letter.
The Minister of Local Government, who is often referred to within party circles as “Tyson” for his abrasive approach, uncharacteristically told the Financial Gazette this week that he was abstaining from the bitter turf war in that province, which is thought to be Mnangagwa’s stronghold.
Kasukuwere is believed to be the face of the G40 although he vehemently denies it.
Ironically, previously, he has not shied away from troublesome provinces, having been on a fire fighting mission ever since he assumed the position of national political commissar in December 2014.
He has been to Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Manicaland and Bulawayo provinces to deal with factional battles.
In an interview with the Financial Gazette on Tuesday, a calm Kasukuwere said he was leaving everything to the leadership of the province and was waiting for a briefing when conclusive decisions are made.
He, in fact, said he would receive a report from Midlands provincial chairman, Kizito Chivamba, today.
“The matter is being dealt with in the province. I do not intend to meddle with their processes. Handingangomhanyiri dzese dzese (I cannot be seen rushing everywhere),” he said.
“The (provincial) chairman will in fact give me a briefing on Thursday (today) and we will see what happens from there,” added Kasukuwere.
Chivamba declined to comment when contacted on telephone from his base in Gweru, the Midlands provincial capital.
“You should learn to wait for our processes to complete before you seek to pre-empt them. The problem with newspapers is that you want to rush to write before we complete our processes, but for now, I am not able to tell you anything,” he said.
“Be satisfied with what the PC (political commissar) told you. Ndivo vakuru vomusangano (He is in the party leadership); it’s up to him. I cannot go into his shoes. He is above me,” he said.
Mnangagwa’s supporters in the province were this week quick to declare that Kasukuwere’s volte-face was confirmation that he was afraid of storming into enemy territory.
“You have to appreciate the fact that the Midlands is a highly sensitive area. He has to be very careful in his approach, lest he be humiliated because this province is united against G40,” said a senior party member from the province who did not want to be identified.
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