Local Government Minister and ZANU-PF’s national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere (SK) faces a barrage of criticism from within and without his party over the instability in the ruling party, controversy over the allocation of residential land and his alleged meddling in the business of all urban councils.
As ZANU-PF’s chief campaigner, he is also facing a tricky by-election in Bikita West. Financial Gazette correspondent, Njabulo Ncube (NN), caught up with him to get his views on these and other issues.
NN: There are accusations that you and your Ministry officials meddle excessively in the operations of local authorities to the detriment of service delivery; what is your comment?
SK: We do not meddle in local authority affairs; we superintend over local authorities and I think we want to be mature about it and not create unnecessary fights. It is our role and duty to ensure that councils deliver on their mandate. We can’t sit akimbo here and see things crumbling in any part of our country at any of our local authorities.
NN: The typhoid outbreak in Harare is said to be caused by meddling by you and your Ministry which does not want to see the Movement for Democratic Change dominated city council independently run the local authority?
SK: How does meddling cause typhoid? What causes typhoid is known. The city is not clean, the city administration, the city fathers do not attend to issues to do with water, billing and dirt in the city. These are the things that cause problems for us and we are going to ensure that the situation in Harare is restored to normal.
NN: As the ZANU-PF national political commissar, what is your assessment of the ZANU-PF party? Is the party growing or declining?
SK: ZANU-PF is growing, ZANU-PF is strong and there is no doubt that the participation of our members in past by-elections has clearly demonstrated the strength of the party. We have been able to overcome the opposition and I think when Morgan Tsvangirai says he and his party will not participate because we require electoral reforms it’s far from the truth. They are just being dishonest, they are being insincere; they knew we would clobber them, so they decided to stay away.
They chickened out and when you chicken out you can’t then say you are a victor when you are hiding; a victor does not run away from a fight. As far as we are concerned, ZANU-PF is strong and I am sure you can attest to the strength of our party when you look around the country, notwithstanding, of course, that there are issues that the party must address. Number one is the issue of the economy.
We should ensure that we work harder and this is being done and there is a massive document which speaks to efforts by this government. The President himself has been travelling around the world; and just recently he was in China promoting the setting up of industrial parks in Zimbabwe and the export of our agricultural products to China and other countries.
The rains this year have been good and you can see that the command agriculture, the presidential inputs scheme and all these other projects are starting to bear some fruits for us. Already there is optimism that this country’s gross domestic product would grow significantly.
NN: What is your response to accusations that ZANU-PF is using urban land to influence urban dwellers to vote for the party?
SK: Every party, once elected into government, must craft polices that improve, in a positive way, the well-being of the people. If you look at our manifesto we spoke about how ZANU-PF would embark on a massive housing programme and that is what we are doing. To say that we are trying to influence people is wrong; this is what we promised the people as we went for elections in 2013, and we are delivering. So if anyone is complaining about it, it’s because ZANU-PF is delivering.
NN: Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) is challenging ZANU-PF in Bikita West; to what extent is the party prepared to face this new challenge?
SK: Masvingo is a one party province. Masvingo is a ZANU-PF area. The leadership in Masvingo and I have been working 24/7. Campaign teams are on the ground, they are campaigning hard to make sure that all registered members play their part in making sure that ZANU-PF wins. We have held campaign rallies officially opened by then acting President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa on Wednesday (last week).
All roads will again lead to Bikita where acting President Baba (Phelekezela) Mphoko will lead us in closing the campaigns. ZANU-PF works, ZANU-PF has the political machinery, so this talk that it will be upset by Joice Mujuru is far from the truth. Mujuru has no party; it is just a grouping of angry people. They have a weak candidate, and a weak political party. Everything about ZPF is weak; the leader is weak, the party is weak, the candidate is weak.
NN: What is your response to allegations that provincial party chairpersons and provincial commissars recently confronted you for hobnobbing with Temba Mliswa?
SK: You are reading too much of the State media. I think the State media has sunk to very desperate levels; very low life kind of journalism. I don’t want to waste my time reading or discussing the Herald.
NN: The issue of VP Mnangagwa holding a mug with the inscription ‘I am the boss” at his homestead over the festive season has been hogging the limelight. Is this not an indication that factionalism in ZANU-PF did not end with Mujuru’s expulsion?
SK: I am not commenting on the mug at this time. No comment on that one. But it (factionalism) does not exist. We have to verify whether what you are saying (happened at the VP homestead) is correct.
NN: But who is to blame for the factionalism in the party?
SK: Well those practicing factionalism must answer that question.
NN: Do you belong to a faction?
Source: Financial Gazette