Zanu PF’s deadly factional and succession wars rose a notch higher yesterday when embattled national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere made sensational claims that some of his senior party colleagues were brazen thieves and criminals who were robbing the poor blind.
Addressing supporters at a rally in the capital city to drum up support for Zanu PF Harare East by-election candidate Terence Mukupe, the angry Kasukuwere — reeling from the party’s intractable infighting that has lately seen him being accused of having designs at President Robert Mugabe’s and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s positions — shot from the hip, threatening that some officials would be expelled from the party soon.
Party insiders who spoke to the Daily News last night claimed that it was clear that “the stress is getting to Tyson (Kasukuwere)” and that the diatribe was directed at secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo — given the opposing positions that the two men had taken over the party’s representation in the divisive Harare East party primaries.
Reports indicated yesterday that Kasukuwere was due to suspend Zanu PF Harare province yesterday evening.
While Kasukuwere successfully backed Mukupe, including when the matter went to court, Chombo and the whole Harare province leadership supported Mavis Gumbo — with the saga still far from over even after Mnangagwa ruled that Mukupe would be the party candidate in the June 10 by-elections boycotted by the MDC.
It was thus, ironic that Kasukuwere and Chombo attended a function together early yesterday morning, and were expected to jointly address the subsequent rally.
But given the palpable tension between the two bigwigs, Chombo opted — unsurprisingly — to leave for another event in Chitungwiza, with well-placed sources telling the Daily News that the Local Government minister was still insisting that Gumbo, and not Mukupe, would represent the party in next month’s by-election for the seat.
And Kasukuwere would seemingly have none of it, going on a savage attack against criminal and thieving party bigwigs that left the few supporters in attendance shell-shocked.
Kasukuwere’s detractors allege that the combative and youthful Cabinet minister is a prominent member of the party’s ambitious Young Turks that is known by the moniker Generation 40 (G40), and some of them as the so-called Gang of Four, who stand accused of trying to grab power from Mugabe and Mnangagwa.
War veterans and influential Zanu PF official Oppah Muchinguri have also recently jumped on the bandwagon, accusing the G40 of plotting to oust Mugabe from power — in a manner former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her allies were similarly accused of engaging in treason, leading to their ruthless purging from the party and government.
Kasukuwere said bluntly yesterday that those who had boycotted the rally knew that he (Kasukuwere) did not associate with thieves.
“We will not be blackmailed or intimidated. They cannot be here because they can’t be with me because I don’t believe in their agenda. I will not share a stage with thieves.
“You are surviving by stealing people’s blood. You survive from stealing from the people and making operators pay everyday. I will rather come alone than to be accompanied by criminals in Zanu PF regalia,” Kasukuwere added.
Chombo, acting Zanu PF Harare provincial chairman Godwills Masimirembwa and Zanu PF Harare provincial youth leader Godwin Gomwe did not attend the rally, although they had all attended the earlier function.
Kasukuwere vowed that he would take head-on any internal elements that opposed party decisions.
“I am one of the biggest political thugs. If you are looking for big thugs in Zanu PF, I am one of them. Some of these small little thugs who think they are bigger than the party are playing with fire. Come to the ground and I will deal with you. Come and I will teach you a lesson.
“For the first time, they have met their match. I will not be cowed by thugs. I will tell them the truth. We stood against Mujuru’s corrupt cabal and we won and what can stop us,” Kasukuwere, who is nicknamed Tyson for his combative political style, boasted.
And he was not finished. He went on to accuse some party leaders of using cooperatives to make money.
“You are taking advantage of the suffering of the people to line your pockets at the expense of the people and we say no to corruption. This matter is getting out of hand. Some people think that to lead is to make people suffer and that cooperatives are money-making ventures.
“Harare should be behind President Mugabe and not thieves and criminals who think they can be arrogant to the party. Your time is up, we will send you packing. Zanu PF is for us all. Let us not abuse President Mugabe and the First Lady for our own selfish agendas.
“The fight in this province of Harare is a fight between evil and right, between righteousness and those who want to be corrupt and steal from the people. We will never be scared of anyone. If you think you must use your position to steal from the poor, pasi newe (down with you),” the fired-up Kasukuwere said.
He singled out the party’s Harare youths for special criticism, accusing them of extortion.
“Jim Kunaka and his gang used to collect money from commuter omnibuses using the party’s name. Now we are seeing the youths taking money from women at the market stalls. You hear someone say I am chairman. Chairman wechii? Chairman wekuba (What chairman? A thieving chairman?).
“We were watching as people were being abused but it’s now time up. We will send them packing,” Kasukuwere warned.
The Zanu PF political commissar also warned that some party members were on the verge of expulsion for challenging Mugabe’s leadership.
“If there are some who are dreaming they are free to continue dreaming. The leadership has chosen the candidate (Mukupe). That is the only Zanu PF candidate.
“If they don’t want you, then they don’t want you. If they want you, they want you. If you are a child of Zanu PF, you listen to the party and its decisions.
“There are some who are close to being dismissed from the party. You do not challenge the leadership of President Mugabe. You don’t use position and authority INVESTED in you by the party to undermine the party.
“I want to tell you that cellphones don’t rule. This business of phoning each other and giving out instruction is nonsense. You listen to the party or you go and form your own party,” Kasukuwere thundered further