Former Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere is expected in the country any time soon amid speculation that he may take-over leadership of the National Patriotic Front (NPF), currently headed in the interim by retired brigadier-general Ambrose Mutinhiri.
Impeccable sources told the Daily News yesterday that the former Local Government minister will this month end almost five months in exile, having fled the country in the early stages of a soft coup that catapulted Emmerson Mnangagwa to the presidency at the expense of former president Robert Mugabe, who was forced to resign after 37 years of high-handed rule.
Affectionately known as Tyson for his demeanour which matches that of former heavy-weight American boxer, Michael Gerard Tyson, Kasukuwere’s return has already rattled feathers, particularly in the ruling Zanu PF party.
Zanu PF has previously made it clear that it will not forgive the garrulous politician and his closest associate, former Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo, for aiding and abetting Mugabe’s persecution of former liberation war fighters, including Mnangagwa.
Moyo and Kasukuwere, both of whom stand accused of influencing Mnangagwa’s expulsion from government as well as the axing of hundreds of his supporters, were classified among “criminals around Mugabe” during a month-long military operation that ended the 94-year-old despot’s rule.
Kasukuwere is returning to Zimbabwe at a time when knives have been drawn out against NPF leader, Mutinhiri, who is accused of incompetence and dereliction of duty. Mutinhiri is due to address the media in Marondera today when a dark cloud is hovering over his leadership of the NPF.
The Daily News can reveal that Kasukuwere’s impending arrival has split the NPF, with two groups emerging – one in support of Mutinhiri’s leadership of the party and the other one which is putting faith in Kasukuwere to lead the party into the forthcoming elections.
NPF interim secretary-general Shadreck Mashayamombe yesterday told the Daily News that Kasukuwere would return this week.
“He is coming back and coming to lead us this week,” he said.
Mashayamombe was part of NPF officials who addressed a rally in the mining town of Bindura, in Mashonaland Central last Sunday. He was in the company of interim political commissar Jeppy Jaboon and caretaker women’s league boss, Sarah Mahoka.
At the rally, Mahoka hinted at Kasukuwere’s return and his ascendancy to the post of NPF leader.
“Kasukuwere is going to arrive today (Sunday). The noise I heard from the crowd tells me that you are going to welcome your son. Mashonaland West and Masvingo have been beaten by Mashonaland Central, chigaro chaenda naTyson ichi (Kasukuwere is a clear favourite for the post),” Mahoka said, adding:
“As Mashonaland West, we have our own candidate but with what I saw today we have accepted defeat. We are now supporting Mashonaland Central. Masvingo and Mashonaland West must accept defeat and we are not going to say anything.
“Mashonaland Central must not forget us when you are elected into power. As for me, I don’t want to be a president but don’t forget us as Mashonaland West because we are working hard for the party… Mutinhiri is going to be removed by your votes. Mugabe never chose anyone to be the president of this party; he said the leader of the party is going to be elected by the people; Mugabe is not a dictator”.
Kasukuwere hails from Mashonaland Central province, a Zanu PF stronghold, which has been the bastion for support for the Mugabe regime.
After his dramatic fall, Mugabe retreated to a quiet private life only to emerge about two months later to declare his disapproval of the new dispensation saying it seized power illegally. Thereafter, he has been fraternising with former Zanu PF officials linked to the vanquished Generation 40 (G40) faction, among them Mutinhiri, giving rise to speculation that he was the brains behind NPF.
Dickson Mafios, Kasukuwere’s brother and former Zanu PF chairperson for Mashonaland Central, also addressed the meeting in Bindura at the weekend, pleading with the authorities to let democracy and pluralism flourish, and letting bygones be bygones.
Just like his brother, Mafios had also gone into self-imposed exile after the November coup.
Jaboon indicated during the meeting that they would go for the party’s inaugural convention in 10 days’ time with the position for presidency up for grabs.
Contacted for comment, Mutinhiri said he was in the dark on the latest political developments in the party.
“I am not in a position to comment about that, this is certainly not the right time,” said Mutinhiri.
Divisions have emerged in the political outfit specifically on who should lead the party that is hard-pressed to enter into the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa.
With T-Shirts emblazoned with the faces of Mugabe and the late vice president Joshua Nkomo, NPF makes it no secret that their godfather is the former president whose 37-year rule ended after the army stepped in to side with the then Mnangagwa-led Team Lacoste faction.
Speaking in South Africa after assuming power last year, Mnangagwa said although they had forgiven most of the G40 elements they were still to pardon the trio of Moyo, Kasukuwere and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao.
“Whatever wrong we might have done to you, we need to forgive… I have forgiven the cabal and they are in the country except for only three who remain outside and still saying funny things but all that will soon come to an end,” Mnangagwa said.
Moyo, in the sanctuary of self-imposed exile, has repeatedly lashed out at Mnangagwa on microblogging site Twitter, claiming the incumbent had assumed power illegally.
Recently, Moyo ruled out working with Mnangagwa.
“I am where God wants me to be and for good reasons. The easiest and evilest thing to do would have been to be with Mnangagwa and (Vice President Constantino) Chiwenga: Zim’s two all-time Judas Iscariots whose betrayal of … Mugabe’s trust has destroyed Zanu PF and will destroy Zimbabwe if they’re not stopped,” said Moyo.
Mnangagwa’s government has been spinning a web around Kasukuwere and Moyo and early this year froze the duo’s accounts.
In an advertisement to all financial institutions, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe directed banks to identify and immediately freeze all accounts in the name of Kasukuwere and Moyo and any accounts in which they are directors or have a known beneficial interest.
“You are further directed to submit, in writing, a written to the unit, by no later than the 8th of December, 2017, listing and giving particulars (including balances) of all the accounts that you would have identified and frozen in terms of this directive. Where you have not identified any relevant account, you shall nevertheless submit nil return.
“The effect of the freeze is that, (except any inflows into the account, which shall be processed normally and immediately notified to the Unit) no other transaction shall be processed from a frozen account, until further the Unit directs otherwise,” reads part of the notice issued by the central bank.
In an interview with American business satellite TV channel Bloomberg, minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Sibusiso Moyo said Mnangagwa’s government did not chase anyone from Zimbabwe and exiled Zimbabwean politicians had to return and account to the people of Zimbabwe.
“We did not chase anyone out of Zimbabwe. If you have anything to account for, then you have to come and account to the people of Zimbabwe,” said the Foreign Affairs and International Trade minister.