Source: Team Lacoste goes after G40 foes | The Financial Gazette September 15, 2016
A LAND row involving Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, could destabilise the party’s Youth League after it took a factional dimension targeting three youth league members, the Financial Gazette has learnt.
Kasukuwere was accused by President Robert Mugabe last week of allocating land meant for distribution to youths to political cronies, who included several ZANU-PF party bigwigs and executives of the Youth League.
Sources indicated that Team Lacoste, a faction linked to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, had seized on the alleged lapse by Kasukuwere, a perceived kingpin in a rival faction called Generation 40 (G40), over which he was publicly censured by President Robert Mugabe last week.
Kasukuwere is alleged to have parcelled out land earmarked for youths in urban areas to cronies, angering the ruling party’s first secretary and president.
Some of the beneficiaries of Kasukuwere’s goodwill included Kudzai Chipanga, the recently promoted secretary for youth affairs, Innocent Hamandishe, the league’s national political commissar and Kasukuwere’s younger brother, Tongai, who is also an executive in the league.
Some youths linked to Team Lacoste are now reportedly baying for the censure of the three, who vanquished several Team Lacoste-aligned youth members from the league, resulting in their expulsion for alleged indiscipline.
The rival youths are reportedly trying to put pressure on President Mugabe to wield the axe on all those accused of benefitting from Kasukuwere’s largesse.
Some of the land was also reportedly parcelled out to popular cleric, Walter Magaya, who has unveiled housing projects around the country.
Chipanga, Tongai and Hamandishe allegedly got 50 hectares each from Kasukuwere, but the three have strongly denied the allegations, saying they were simply victims of calculated factional plots.
G40 now dominates the Youth League national executive after Mnangagwa’s allies were either expelled from the party or suspended as part of the factional fights within the former liberation war party.
These included the league’s former boss, Pupurai Togarepi, who was replaced a few weeks ago by Chipanga; former secretary for administration, Lewis Matutu; and former deputy secretary for administration, Sibongile Sibanda.
Tongai, who is strongly tipped to take the now-vacant deputy secretary for youth affairs position, said he did not get any land from his brother.
Tongai contested for the position during the chaotic pre-congress Youth League conference in August 2014, but lost to Chipanga, an adversary-turned-comrade.
“I have no such land. If I took an inch of it, let people go and repossess it,” Tongai said.
He blamed his foes for concocting the allegations to force him out of the league.
“I know this is all about that position, but I am not even interested in it. We are directed by the party. I do not have a culture of jostling for positions,” he said.
Chipanga also denied benefitting from any land allocation.
“This is just a smokescreen by those people who want to label others as corrupt for political mileage, but it’s sad. We are actually pressing government daily to expedite the distribution of the land to the youths. It’s all lies, but we shall not be deterred,” he told the Financial Gazette.
Hamandishe also dismissed the allegations against him, saying: “It’s all malice coming from people who are just jealous with our tremendous achievements as the Youth League. It’s so sad that instead of working for the country, these people take a great deal of their time plotting against mere youths, including cooking up all sorts of lies.
“They even planted a story in the press suggesting that I was manhandled and slapped in the face by angry youths who were demanding their land back at a meeting in Chitungwiza when at that time I was actually campaigning for ZANU-PF in Bikita West where there is a by-election pending. That is how far lying has gone.”
Kasukuwere has also denied the allegations, despite President Mugabe insisting last week just before a Politburo meeting that he had given land to his cronies, diverting it from its intended use – distribution to party youths ahead of 2018 national elections.
Sources insisted Team Lacoste youths were unlikely to relent from their renewed battle against G40 foes.
One source indicated that as part of their strategy, the Team Lacoste youths were “stirring trouble by influencing the lower structures where they have considerable influence to instigate rebellion against the three (Youth League executives)”.
“It’s yet to be seen if they can win this but following the land scandal, things seem to be tilting in their favour presently. There are even plans to raise criminal charges against them,” said one member of the league.
G40 supporters say the trio and Kasukuwere were being targeted by Team Lacoste which wanted to regain influence of the Youth League.
“It’s really sad my brother. It’s this position which has arisen after Chipanga was elevated so they said let’s destroy these youngsters,” said a member of the youth league executive who declined to be identified.
“We have worked hard to finance the Youth League from our own earnings and we have kept it running to the extent that the President has praised us, but this is what happens. It’s sad.”
But a Mnangagwa ally dismissed this as nonsense.
“It is the President who raised the issue in the Politburo. Is the President Lacoste? Corruption is corruption, especially when it is raised by the President. They have cases to answer and they should do just that, rather than hide behind the factional issues. They surely do not expect people to fold their hands and sit back when the President is demanding answers,” said one member of the Youth League aligned to Team Lacoste.
“They should just explain how they got that land if they got it. I think bringing in the factional mantra is a smokescreen,” the official said.