HARARE – Zanu PF’s national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere, who was facing allegations of setting up parallel structures to dethrone President Robert Mugabe, is now technically off the hook following the dismissal of former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Kasukuwere’s case had been referred to the ruling party’s presidium for determination, but ever since it was extensively debated in the party’s highest decision-making organ outside congress, the politburo, more than four months ago, the decision has taken long in coming.
The Local Government minister has the support of Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, who has previously dismissed the charges against him as nothing but the work of the political commissar’s rivals.
He, however, did not appear to have Mnangagwa’s backing after he led the decimation of the Team Lacoste faction, which wanted the former vice president to succeed Mugabe.
With Mnangagwa now out of the equation, none of the remaining presidium members has an axe to grind with Kasukuwere, which means that the allegation levelled against him could die a natural death.
Early this year, Zanu PF structures across the country revolted against Kasukuwere, accusing him of clandestinely trying to remove Mugabe from power through setting up parallel structures.
This led Mugabe to establish a probe team, led by politburo member Jacob Mudenda, that investigated 11 charges levelled against Kasukuwere.
The panel concluded its investigations around June and made its presentation to the politburo, which tasked the party’s presidium, then comprising Mugabe and his two deputies — Mnangagwa and Mphoko — to conclude the case.
Since then, the presidium has yet to make its pronouncements.
The presidium, the pinnacle of power in Zanu PF, was seemingly divided and not ready to deal with the case as Mphoko and Mnangagwa were pulling in different directions.
Mugabe had kept the Local Government minister on edge by remaining quiet on the matter
The case had, however, swung in Kasukuwere’s favour after First Lady Grace Mugabe leapt to his defence, accusing the Team Lacoste faction of cooking up charges against the troubled political commissar.
Notwithstanding, Mnangagwa had continued to push for the conclusion of the contentious case.
According to a leaked presentation made by Mnangagwa at a politburo sitting in September and in response to Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo’s allegations that he had captured State institutions, the former vice president had said the presidium should finalise its findings on Kasukuwere without any further ado or hindrance.
Analysts said this week while the report could have proven vital for Mnangagwa, whose faction had been vanquished at Kasukuwere’s instigation, the case against the Local Government minister had technically collapsed.
Piers Pigou, southern African director of the International Crisis Group, wondered why no one is raising this unresolved issue around the Mudenda dossier, which politburo member Moyo has derided in his audio visual attack on Mnangagwa in one of the politburo meetings.
“Are the same structures that called for Kasukuwere’s head in May not the same ones calling for an extraordinary congress? Why are they silent on the failure of the presidium to finalise this matter with Kasukuwere?” he asked.
He said the inaction tends to suggest that Zanu PF’s constitution was a moveable feast, adding that the party should demonstrate its commitment to following the rules by making its charter publicly available.
“They used to, but since the introduction of monarchical centralised powers of the first secretary they have not shared this,” he added.
Human rights activist and academic Dewa Mavhinga said Kasukuwere’s fate lies with Mugabe.
He said Zanu PF as an institution is personified in Mugabe who himself has been institutionalised.
“So no structure will move against Kasukuwere unless Mugabe gives tacit authorisation,” opined Mavhinga.
Shakespeare Hamauswa, an analyst, said it seems the charges were being treated as political crimes not legal issues.
“Kasukuwere is being backed by Mugabe because Mugabe is the major beneficiary of factionalism in Zanu PF. So he would rather let them fight while leaving him in charge. If they unite then they will have one common enemy — Mugabe.
“That will be the end of uncle Bob. On another angle, a group called G40 is a real one, so its members also support Kasukuwere. Lastly, pure political luck rescued Kasukuwere. No one had survived his position especially in the midst of crises of the levels he had gone through. This means when the storm subsides the best move for Kasukuwere is to strategically withdraw from politics, going for some kind of sabbatical retreat and later come. He might not survive the next strike.”
Maxwell Saungweme, an analyst, said the whole shows how Zanu PF is run, not through ethics, principles, laws, or constitution by a cult-like patronage system where the side you belong vis-a-vis the centre of power, the First Family, determines your culpability.
He said if they were to use their party rules and constitution, the 11 charges would stick on Kasukuwere.
But because the political commissar enjoys warm relations with Grace, the charges will be ignored.
“If Tyson dares challenge Dr Amai, the charges will stick. So Zanu PF is a moronic, baffling, and preposterous political outfit where sanity rarely reigns. To survive in such a muddled and tumultuous party-political jungle-like organisation, you have to play the game,” observed Saungweme. Kasukuwere has flatly denied the allegations. Instead, he accuses his political foes of trying to remove him through “choreographed” demonstrations.