Kasukuwere unsettles Mnangagwa

Vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa believes Saviour Kasukuwere, the ruling party’s national political commissar, is plotting to scuttle his plans to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

Political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere – building political power base?
Political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere – building political power base?

Zanu (PF) insiders told The Zimbabwean that Mnangagwa recently queried Kasukuwere’s motives in his nationwide restructuring exercise on the sidelines of a politburo meeting.

Kasukuwere has been visiting the ruling party provincial structures where he has dissolved some and made changes without the blessings of his seniors.

“VP Mnangagwa is suspicious of what Kasukuwere is doing. Reports from his loyalists in the provinces indicate that the PC (political commissar) has started stuffing the structures with his own people as a way of building a power base ahead of the next general elections (in 2018),” said a senior party member.

Kasukuwere is enjoying the support of Constantine Chiwenga, the army commander, and a number of influential politicians, among them Jonathan Moyo, the information minister and Ignatius Chombo, the party administration secretary, according to sources.

“Talk doing the rounds is that the Kasukuwere team is made up mostly of Young Turks who feel that now is their time to run the party and government. They seem to be convinced that President Mugabe will not run for office in 2018,” added the source. It was not clear if the Young Turks were planning to make Kasukuwere their leader or if he was being used because of his organising position.

Breaking ranks

Another party source said the Kasukuwere team was gradually breaking ranks with Mnangagwa after uniting in 2014 to fight the faction led by Joice Mujuru.

Kasukuwere and Moyo fought from the Mnangagwa camp and ensured that the current VP replaced Mujuru at last year’s congress.

They were part of the Gang of Four that also reportedly included former women’s league boss, Oppah Muchinguri, and Mugabe’s nephew, Patrick Zhuwao. The group is said to have played a critical role in undermining the Mujuru camp last year but the four now seem to be drifting apart.

Recent reports indicate that Mnangagwa was plotting to dissipate the group as he viewed it with suspicion.

“The Mnangagwa group has always been loose. Mnangagwa did not trust Moyo and Kasukuwere and the two fought with him because it was the most natural thing to do as they were all opposed to Mujuru. But now that the mission has been accomplished, the cracks are emerging.

The Young Turks are forming their own centre of power ahead of 2018. Even if they might not succeed to get into power after the elections, they would have started building their own power base,” said the second source.

The Zanu (PF) insider said Mnangagwa could be forced to act on Kasukuwere and have him replaced by a more trusted figure who would help consolidate his political powerbase.

“There is no doubt that ED (Mnangagwa) is calling the shots in Zanu (PF) at the moment and it would not be surprising if he caused changes in the commissariat soon,” he said.

Mysterious deaths

The commissar’s post is seen as a hot potato in Zanu (PF). Several PCs, among them Border Gezi and Elliot Manyika, have died under mysterious circumstances after courting the ire of influential party members through controversial restructuring exercises.

Moyo, who has also been rumoured to be holding presidential ambitions, has already publicly dismissed the widely held belief that Mnangagwa is Mugabe’s anointed successor after the 2014 congress that decimated the Mujuru faction. Speaking to a government controlled weekly in December after the congress, Moyo said Mnangagwa’s appointment as VP did not make him an automatic successor to Mugabe.

“Anyone who wants to succeed President Mugabe will have to win the hearts and minds of the membership of Zanu (PF) and then of Zimbabweans,” said Moyo. Mnangagwa is seen as lacking popular grassroots support in Zanu (PF) and among Zimbabweans generally.

Kasukuwere last week seemed to be unflustered by claims that he was building a political nest using his position as Zanu (PF) national commissar. “People can keep dreaming and I will keep doing my work as assigned by our leader,” said Kasukuwere.

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