Kasukuwere fails to heal Zanu PF rift

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ZANU PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere yesterday came face to face with warring party candidates for the Harare East constituency from which they emerged even further divided.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA/XOLISANI NCUBE

In a continuation of the internal factional fights that have rocked the ruling party particularly in the past year or so, Zanu PF will be represented by two candidates in the Harare East by-election set for June.

The former guerilla movement was left with egg on the face following a failed bid to withdraw the candidature of career banker Terrence Mukupe who won the party’s primaries against his rival Mavis Gumbo.

Gumbo, who is former Women’s Football leader, was reported to have the support of the powerful Zanu PF Women’s League headed by First Lady Grace Mugabe, secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo, the acting Harare provincial leadership and Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

On the other hand, little-known Mukupe has Kasukuwere — who is in charge of the party’s commissariat and overall electoral machinery — on his side.

While insiders insisted that Kasukuwere was “ordered” by First Lady Grace to dump Mukupe for Gumbo, the Environment minister yesterday said he was unaware of the alleged directive from the First Lady or anyone in the party.

“That’s news to me. Don’t drag the name of the First Lady into petty personal issues that are being driven by some people,” Kasukuwere said.

Without going into detail, Kasukuwere confirmed he had “met all candidates in Harare province”, but scoffed at reports the party’s Women’s League had asked him to dump his protégé Mukupe for Gumbo.

Close sources, however, insisted Grace had “recommended” that Gumbo should contest on behalf of Zanu PF just before her departure to the Far East.

“It was not an order, but the Women’s League recommended that they would prefer a situation in which a woman contested on behalf of the party, but at the end of the day, the decision lies with the commissariat,” the sources said.

Gumbo confirmed meeting Kasukuwere over the impassé, but would not be drawn into divulging what was discussed.

“It was just a meeting with the political commissar and I am not in a position to divulge the discussions we had, suffice to say the party has the final say on everything. Find the responsible people who will speak on the matter. I am only a candidate and will be guided by whatever decision the party’s leadership will make,” Gumbo said.

Mukupe, who has come under the microscope over reports that he joined Zanu PF only recently, defended his history in the party, saying he had worked at the Zanu PF headquarters for many years as a business director.

“I am Zanu PF to the core and have worked for the business unit of the party for the past three years. I have worked under the wings of Cde Sithembiso Nyoni. So I don’t know where you are getting it that I am a protégé of Cde Kasukuwere. I have never worked with him,” Mukupe said, adding he respected Gumbo, but was confident “come the 10th of June, there shall be one candidate representing Zanu PF in Harare East”.

Following the Zanu PF’s eleventh hour decision to withdraw its support for Mukupe minutes before the nomination court sat last month, the aggrieved activist approached the Electoral Court which ruled in his favour and ordered that the two protagonists compete in the poll.

Since then, Zanu PF has failed to come up with a clear position on who the party candidate is.

This has shown the depth of divisions in the former liberation movement even after the vicious purge of senior officials prior to the divisive congress last December.

The purges have seen the axing of former Vice-President Joice Mujuru, seen as the leader of a group accused of plotting to depose President Robert Mugabe.

4 COMMENTS

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    Chombo and Masimirembwa have taken the Gumbo fight to the extreme by ordering citizens to illegally invade Caledonia farm in promise they vote Mavis Gumbo.

    Unfortunately Mavis Gumbo has a bad name umong voters from Zifa, salarygate plus ppl identify her with the Gumbos who looted cooperative monies.
    Thats why she lost Primaries.

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