BULAWAYO - Zanu PF national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, has accused some senior party officials of harbouring overweening ambition and fanning divisions in the warring former liberation movement by plotting to succeed President Robert Mugabe using underhand methods.
Speaking in coded language at Highlanders Sports Club, at the celebrations of the appointment of Tshinga Dube as War Veterans minister last week, Kasukuwere warned the “plotters” to back off saying there was “no vacancy for the presidency both in Zimbabwe and in Zanu PF”.
“The leaders we have are sworn-in by God, so let us respect and support them. Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni among others contested the presidency and lost to ... Mugabe.
“We reaffirmed he is our president therefore that is where the centre of power is.
“There is no vacancy for the presidency both in Zimbabwe and in Zanu PF. There is only one leader and one centre of power,” Kasukuwere thundered in remarks that attendees said were aimed at the ruling party faction rallying behind embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations.
“You can’t create a vacancy. It won’t work and it’s not going to happen anytime soon. My plea to you comrades is that hatifanire kukwidza vatungamiriri ndenge dzemashanga (comrades, we must not stroke the egos of misguided leaders), making them believe kuti pane zvigaro kana kuti pane zvamuka (that there are vacant posts where there none).
“No, there is no vacancy. Mdhara Gushungo aripo (Mugabe is still there). Let him rule. He has the blessings of his people,” Kasukuwere warned, saying the work of such plotters would come to nought.
The Cabinet minister who is nicknamed Tyson for his combative political style also read the riot act on Zanu PF members who were attending unsanctioned party meetings.
“Nyaya yekugara misangano panotukwa vakuru, muchinakidzwa nazvo (Stop attending meetings where our elders are insulted, enjoying that tomfoolery) we can’t accept that. Let us not be too excited for nothing. Let us tow the line of the party,” he said, adding that as Mugabe was God-chosen, he should therefore be given due respect.
Speaking afterwards, Dube challenged war veterans who were suspended or expelled from Zanu PF to seek clemency and go and apologise to Mugabe — in remarks that were seen as directed at former War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa and his supporters.
He claimed that Mugabe’s Christian background made him “a kind forgiver”, adding that although it was culturally unheard of for citizens to insult their leaders, Mugabe always had “a forgiving heart”.
Dube was catapulted to the leadership of the War Veterans ministry last month after the nonagenarian sacked Mutsvangwa — after he was accused of working to undermine the first family.
“Those who were fired or suspended in the party, I urge them to go and apologise to their patron, His Excellency President Robert Mugabe. I know that he is a Christian, he will accept their apologies.
“In our African culture we never challenge the authority or decision of an elder, let alone demonise him. Even in England, I have been to Hyde Corner where people say anything they want. I have never heard them insult their Queen,” he said.
Dube also came to the defence of powerful First Lady Grace Mugabe, describing her as a motherly figure.
“The first lady is also a motherly, respectable woman, not what we usually read about her on social media and other sections of the media mostly written by young boys who don’t know what they will be talking about,” he told the gathering.
Coming at a time when war veterans are now also torn along Zanu PF’s deadly factional and succession lines, Dube admitted that he had a huge task ahead of him.
“My greatest wish is to see my comrades come together as one. It is not easy to administer their welfare when they are divided. Yet, there is no difference in their ideology except on their leadership.
“I thank the president for this appointment and I shall endeavour to persuade my fellow ex-combatants to retain the spirit we carried to fight a protracted war under our two great leaders Mugabe and the late Joshua Nkomo,” he said.
Attendees at the party were treated to sumptuous food and drinks, as the frail-looking Dube — who is also the Member of Parliament for Makokoba — celebrated his ascendency to the War Veterans ministry.
Kasukuwere and Dube’s exhortations come at a time that Zanu PF is reeling from its worsening factional and succession wars that have recently witnessed a damaging breakaway from within the party’s ranks of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her supporters.
Now, the former liberation movement is facing yet another bitter split — this time involving party members loyal to Mnangagwa.
This also comes as the stage is set for an explosive meeting in Harare between Mugabe and restive war veterans on April 7 — as the mindless bloodletting within Zanu PF continues unabated.
Zanu PF insiders who spoke to the Daily News last week said the latest acrimonious “divorce proceedings” involving Team Lacoste — which they said were “well under way” and evident in the troubled provinces of Midlands and Mashonaland East — would deliver a knock out punch to the fast-unraveling party.
“The die is cast and there is no going back. We are going it alone now. When you see State media dredging up malicious stories about Ngwena (Mnangagwa) from 33 years ago (regarding the VP’s alleged inflammatory comments on Gukurahundi), then you know this has to happen,” a senior party official linked to the VP said.
Another Zanu PF bigwig said never in his “wildest imagination” had he ever contemplated that the former liberation movement would suffer more splits than the MDC.
“I’m embarrassed that after Zanu PF Gamatox (Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First), we are now going to have Zanu PF Lacoste, all within the space of a few months. Before that, we had the likes of (Edgar) Tekere, Margaret (Dongo) and Simba (Makoni) splitting from the party as you know.
“At least in the case of the MDC when they were splitting this was largely due to the work of our boys (infiltration and destabilisation by spies). What excuses do we have for this anarchy?
“And the chaos is worsening, what with some war veterans passing votes of no confidence against national leaders such as VP (Phelekezela) Mphoko and Tyson (Zanu PF national political commissar Kasukuwere),” a politburo member who has always claimed that he is “non-aligned” said ruefully.
The Daily News also reported exclusively last week that the party had effectively split into two bitterly-opposed formations in the Midlands, the citadel of Mnangagwa’s support.
Regional party officials confirmed to the newspaper that there were now two structures at most levels — belonging to the rival Mnangagwa and Generation 40 (G40) camps.
“It’s war here. For every G40 structure, there is now a parallel Team Lacoste one, and vice-versa. Our worry is how this will be resolved going into 2018,” one of the officials said.