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Kasukuwere heckled in Masvingo

Masvingo province is proving to be a hard nut to crack for the ruling ZANU-PF party. Last month, a delegation dispatched to Masvingo by the party’s Politburo — the highest decision-making body in ZANU-PF in between congresses — returned from its mission with long faces after participants at the indaba walked out on them.

Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere
Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere

Led by mercurial politician, Jonathan Moyo, the delegation was forced to call off the poorly attended meeting that was meant to end internecine infighting in the volatile province.

A few weeks earlier, President Robert Mugabe had convened back-to-back interface meetings with the feuding parties — one in Chiredzi and the other in Harare — both of which failed to get the feuding parties to smoke a peace pipe.

In the case of interventions by President Mugabe, the warring parties demonstrated their respect for the revered politician by sitting through the meetings and being guarded in their speech.

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This was not the case last week when the party’s national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, rolled into the city, along with his delegation.

The abrasive politician had travelled to the south-eastern part of the country, 292 kilometres south of the capital, in the company of Harare provincial political commissar, Shadreck Mashayamombe and ZANU-PF Youth League national political commissar, Innocent Hamandishe, to preside over a special Provincial Coordinating Committee (PCC) meeting.

The PCC meeting had been necessitated by the issuance of prohibition orders by interim Masvingo provincial chairman, Amasa Nenjana, barring some of the region’s executive members from exercising their party functions, pending their suspension.

Among those who had been affected by the orders were provincial secretary for administration, Alois Baloyi, Brian Munyoro, Godhati Dunhira, Sengerai Manganga and Zvapano Mangasa. Ahead of the meeting, the rumour mill was buzzing.

It had been intimated that Kasukuwere and his team were descending on Masvingo to confirm the prohibition orders. There were therefore pent-up emotions going into the indaba from a group aligned to the affected ZANU-PF officials who had mobilised to fight any decision that was to go against them.

And when the meeting got underway, Kasukuwere came face-to-face with the ugly side of factionalism, which has divided ZANU-PF cadres in the region. He was heckled after he asked his fellow Politburo members from Masvingo, Shuvai Mahofa and Josiah Hungwe, to stop interfering with provincial matters under the purview of Nenjana’s executive.

He had been applauded at some point when he told members to respect the duo who are among the most senior ZANU-PF politicians in the area.

“But almost immediately, that transformed into boos when he appeared to be instructing the two Politburo members to stop interfering with provincial issues and leave them to the executive,” said a source.

“The taunts grew louder when he mentioned provincial political commissar, (Jappy) Jaboon, suggestive of Team Lacoste’s dominance. To his credit, he quickly changed the subject and started talking about unity.”

Masvingo is torn between two distinct factions involved in a gruelling warfare to succeed President Mugabe both at party and national level. On the one hand is a faction rooting for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, supported by Mahofa and Hungwe.

In the opposing camp, is a faction called Generation 40, comprising Nenjana, Jaboon and provincial youth and women’s leagues leaders, Nobert Ndaarombe and Veronica Makonese.
During his address, Kasukuwere took his audience by surprise when he started preaching unity, probably having sensed the tensions and intimidating atmosphere in the room.

He urged members to turn their swords into ploughshares and work hard for the party to ward off rising new opposition party, Zimbabwe People First (ZPF), which is posing a serious threat to ZANU-PF’s stranglehold on the country’s political sphere.

Sources said reactions from the floor varied from derision when Kasukuwere and Nenjana spoke to roaring applauses when a “Bible quoting” Hungwe addressed the audience.

“Nenjana was openly catcalled when he rose to give his welcome remarks as the interim provincial chairman. He was roundly booed by the majority of attendees when, in particular, he said he had been surprised by the huge turnout at the meeting. Notably, (deputy national secretary for legal affairs) Paul Mangwana drew roaring laughter when he shouted at him saying ‘haudiwi nevanhu’ (you are not wanted by the people). Nenjana then spoke for a few more minutes and sat down,” said one official.

Sources said after Nenjana had spoken, Hungwe was given the floor to speak in his capacity as the most senior member in the province to a largely receptive audience.

“Hungwe urged members to respect each other, quoting several scriptures in the Bible. He singled out Nenjana as the chief instigator of troubles in the province and asked Kasukuwere, whom he likened to his younger brother, to rein him in,” another official said.

Contacted for comment this week, Kasukuwere dismissed the reports about his heckling as mischievous.

“That’s not true. Nothing like that happened. I don’t know why people are lying so much. We had a good meeting in Masvingo and whoever told you that is lying. We made tremendous progress in Masvingo…They can proceed to tell you what you want to hear, but I have told you the truth,” said Kasukuwere.

Another ZANU-PF heavyweight in the province, Daniel Shumba, who is the Member of Parliament for Masvingo Central, also rubbished the claims saying:

“Those are exaggerations. We are working together in Masvingo where work is in progress. In any household there are always bound to be quarrels, but with time people agree to work together.” Financial Gazette