AFTER another tumultuous week in Zanu PF politics, President Robert Mugabe cast himself as the voice of reason, but few were fooled by what came out of his bag of tricks this time around.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Mugabe launched a spirited defence of under-fire Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere who is fighting attempts to fire him from the ruling party.
The 93-year-old ruler chastised state-controlled media for lynching the Zanu PF commissar.
He described the demonstrations against Kasukuwere as primitive and alien to Zanu PF.
However, with memories of Joice Mujuru’s brutal ouster from both the ruling party and government still fresh in the minds of many Zimbabweans, Mugabe’s story was a hard sell.
Kasukuwere is likely to lose his post as Zanu PF commissar but still keep his government job.
“Nobody believes Mugabe when he says that [demonstrations are primitive and alien to Zanu PF],” said University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure.
“We all know that the events of the past two weeks are a replay of the 2014 debacle.
“Demonstrations and protests have become standard operating procedure in Zanu PF politics.
“It is clear that Mugabe is behind everything because nobody would have the guts to take a politburo member appointed by the president head-on without at the very least tacit approval from Mugabe.”
Mugabe spoke a day after about 1 000 Zanu PF supporters, that included legislators and senior party officials gathered in Bindura baying for Kasukuwere’s blood.
The minister and his brother Dickson Mafios, who is also the Zanu PF provincial chairperson for Mashonaland Central, are accused of plotting to topple Mugabe.
Kasukuwere is also accused of corruption and muscling out Zanu PF supporters from a gold mining project.
His battles are similar to those faced by Mujuru three years ago.
Rashweat Mukundu, a Harare-based political analyst said Kasukuwere was a victim of Mugabe’s factional politics, which the long-time ruler has mastered over time.
“Mugabe is still very much in control playing one faction against the other, creating sub-factions and eliminating those he wants like a master chess player,” he said.
“The different factions in Zanu PF are playing the game in his palms and he can quash, drop or prop whoever he wants at will.
“I am sure the desired end is security for his family and probably a senior post for his wife and he must sift through the party with his merciless winnowing fork, until he gets his desired end and everyone must be sifted, shaken and tried before he settles for anyone.”
Mukundu said Mugabe would eventually decide on his successor on his terms.
“If nature does not take its course, then succession is very much for Mugabe to decide and make and all that the factions are doing is dancing to his tune,” he said.
“For this reason, methods hitherto effective in dismissing Mujuru are now primitive on Kasukuwere; this again is not support for Kasukuwere but he has him in the place of vulnerability as much as he has Lacoste and others in vulnerable positions.
“After Kasukuwere it will be Mnangagwa and then another.”
Masunungure said Kasukuwere was between a rock and a hard place as his fate was now in Mugabe and his wife Grace’s hands.
“Kasukuwere is on a slippery slope, his position remains tenuous but at the end of the day, it is Mugabe’s call,” he said.
“If anything, Grace could decide this because she triggered everything and can put a stop to it.
“Everybody is vulnerable unless you are a member of the first family.
“You will remember Kasukuwere’s position looked solid just over a week ago but now he has been shaken to the core.”
Mugabe initially spoke against Zanu PF demonstrations targeting Mujuru but changed his position after Grace held nationwide rallies urging him to “baby dump” the then vice-president.
He went on to claim that Mujuru wanted to bewitch him so she could take over power.
The allegations against her are yet to be tested three years later.
Zanu PF supporters latched onto Kasukuwere after staging demonstrations against Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Eunice Sandi Moyo and Hurungwe East MP Sarah Mahoka.
The two, who were accused of plotting against Grace and misusing money donated to the women’s league by unnamed prophets, resigned from their party positions last week.
Zanu PF insiders said Sandi Moyo was paying the price for showing ambition after she indicated that she would accept a nomination to be vice president if the party adopts a resolution setting aside one of the posts in the presidium for women.
Grace is eyeing the vice presidency and is said to be entertaining hopes of succeeding her husband despite public denials.