THE siege on Zanu PF political commissar and local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere persists with what seems a choreographed attempt to seek his ouster.
But the political market is awash with different narratives on why President Robert Mugabe could seemingly be setting the hounds on an individual all along thought to be strong backer of the Zimbabwean leader’s power retention strategy.
Kasukuwere reportedly fronts the so-christened G40, a Zanu PF faction that has done Mugabe’s bidding against rivals rooting for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over from the 93-year-old leader.
Both factions have traded accusations of trying to topple the veteran leader. Last year it was Mnangagwa who was under siege, publicly harangued with relish by junior party officials such as Mandi Chimene.
But current events suggest it is Kasukuwere’s turn to have his back against the wall with rivals closing in for the kill.
Mnangagwa, an apparent nine-lives kingpin in Zanu PF’s age-old factional wars, has set the cat among the pigeons with a bold declaration that the “party is internally fumigating itself from elements bent on weakening and destabilising it ahead of the 2018 elections”.
His statement has elicited strong disapproval from higher education minister Jonathan Moyo, a Kasukuwere ally, who accuses the VP of mimicking ousted party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa who once prescribed gamatox on party rivals.
Higher education minister Professor Jonathan Moyo
“Mnangagwa’s use of the emotive word “fumigating” is most unfortunate and very dangerous as it conjures up Gamatox and Gukurahundi images,” Moyo said.
Semantics aside, the real duel sees Kasukuwere on the throes of an inglorious exit from a post which has claimed the lives of two of his past predecessors in mysterious car accidents.
A source within Zanu PF says the siege on Kasukuwere was engineered by President Mugabe himself in attempts to appease war veterans, a loyal but restless section of his support base who have vowed to throw spanners into the 93-year-old’s re-election bid if he did not sacrifice the Mount Darwin MP.
War veterans are adamant Kasukuwere was less qualified for the influential party post as he lacks liberation war credentials. The minister has previously dismissed the former fighters as drunkards.
The source says the generals have made Kasukuwere’s removal a condition for playing ball in 2018.
The generals are also said to be two-faced as they also fear that once Mugabe secures his victory 2018, he could also turn against them in preference for his wife, Grace who has shown equal interest to become leader.
President Mugabe has all but put his re-election bid in motion with a planned visit to party youth structures countrywide.
The thought of losing his militant support base, sources say, is unfathomable for a leader who would stop at nothing to retain power.
Vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa
Mugabe could also be flexing his muscles in attempts to force party factions to buckle up for the 2018 elections as well as rally support back around himself.
“Mugabe wants it known to all and sundry that none of them is indispensable,” said Evans Mupindu, a South African based Zimbabwean who is keenly watching events back home.
“Once that is known to all, their loyalty increases as all begin to think about their own political survival.
“Mugabe has made it clear to his followers that political life starts and ends with Zanu PF. Mutasa and Kudakwashe Bhasikiti are good exhibits.
“By making all the factions insecure, he is keen to rally support around himself and try to avoid another bhora musango witnessed in 2008.
“For a party buffeted by factional infighting which has had its own leadership carnage already, no one can remind Mugabe about the importance of keeping the current membership residue intact.
“He remembers that Webster Shamu (former party commissar) became too comfortable and almost tried to swing the balance of power in (ousted VP Joice) Mujuru’s favour. So, the need to shake-up the commissariat department would best suit his power retention agenda.
“Mugabe also does not want Kasukuwere to grow too big for his master.”
Another school of thought says the current siege on Kasukuwere fits well into Mugabe’s power balancing antics on party factions.
The wily leader has in the past played factions against each other in attempts to divert attention from on his continued rule.
Until quite recently, Kasukuwere and his G40 faction have enjoyed favour from the Zanu PF leader while Mnangagwa and his Team Lacoste were being vilified for alleged attempts to dethrone Mugabe.
“This could be a continuation of the siege on G40 as party factions play into Mugabe’s power balancing antics,” Mupindu says.
“Mugabe has been clever enough to prop up competing party factions and as it seemed G40 was getting too powerful, and typical of him, he is now propping up Team Lacoste at the expense of G40.
Harare based political commentator Kudzayi Kwangwari says the siege on Kasukuwere could be a realisation by Mugabe that he needs to empower a party faction he may find ideal to entrust the future of his young family with.
“What is happening has all to do with a post Mugabe scenario,” he said.
“Mugabe is trying to secure the future of his family and is going for those he believes can take care of his family.”