TEMPERS reportedly flared at a Zanu PF politburo meeting on Wednesday when President Robert Mugabe clashed with party commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, after the latter ripped into two Masvingo bigwigs, Josaya Hungwe and Shuvai Mahofa, accusing them of fuelling chaos in the province.
By Xolisani Ncube/Everson Mushava/Obey Manayiti
Politburo sources yesterday told NewsDay that Kasukuwere specifically accused Hungwe and Mahofa of orchestrating the leadership crisis that has seen acting provincial chairperson, Amasa Nenjana, being forced out to pave way for Ezra Chadzamira.
Irked by the blunt accusations targeted at his lieutenants, Mugabe reportedly sprang to Hungwe and Mahofa’s defence, chastising Kasukuwere and apportioning blame on the entire party leadership.
“After Kasukuwere had told Hungwe that he was the main problem in the province and that he was destroying the party, the President reprimanded him, saying the party, as a whole, should take responsibility for the mess,” a politburo source, who declined to be named, said.
“But the commissar did not stop lashing out at Hungwe, resulting in the President asking him if he was now arguing with him.”
The source said Kasukuwere toned down his words on realising that Mugabe was getting angry and was “fiercely and persistently defending Hungwe, apportioning blame to the entire provincial leadership and the party in general”.
After a tense debate, which, according to sources, lasted for over 45 minutes, the politburo resolved to hold fresh elections in the province.
“Kasukuwere, with the support of [Jonathan] Moyo, [Kudzanayi] Chipanga and others, said it would be wrong for Chadzamira to be the chairperson, since the politburo meeting of December 11, 2016 had made a resolution relieving him of his duties,” a senior politburo member said.
After a decision to hold fresh provincial elections was endorsed, politburo members reportedly faced a fresh hurdle over selection of a top party official to lead the process, with some proposing Moyo, but Mugabe objected.
“It was agreed that Joram Gumbo should be tasked with overseeing the affairs of the province until such a time when elections are held,” the source continued.
“The commissariat department was tasked to provide support to Gumbo and select a team from central committee members to oversee the election process.”
Contacted for comment yesterday, Kasukuwere confirmed Gumbo’s appointment as caretaker leader for Masvingo province.
“The politburo has dissolved the entire structure of Masvingo province and we are asking Joram Gumbo, in the interim, to lead the province and this also culminates in elections, which must be held very soon,” Kasukuwere said.
“We hope that this will bring order in the province. We will also ensure that elections, which will be conducted in Masvingo, are free and fair and allow people to choose their representatives without being pushed around, threatened or intimidated.
“We are happy that this decision will finally settle the challenge that was setting our party apart in Masvingo. We lost a third of our key positions in the province from 2014 to date, hence, we took that decision that we can restore order.”
Gumbo recently played a similar role in his Midlands province following factional problems that rocked the province after the sacking of Kizito Chivamba.
Kasukuwere said there was nothing amiss in appointing someone from a different province to act in a caretaker capacity in another region.
He said the party once appointed Edna Madzongwe from Mashonaland West province to lead Mashonaland East after the former provincial chairperson, Ray Kaukonde, was sacked.
“We want to get someone from outside the province who will not be viewed as having an interest in the outcome to do that work,” Kasukuwere said.
“Because these are new elections, Chadzamira is eligible to stand. Anyone can stand as well as those who have completed their sentences, who had been suspended by the party before are also eligible.
“In other words, we have lifted the ban on the ban on aspiring candidates in Masvingo. They are all eligible to stand.”