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Under-fire Tyson bares his soul

Zanu PF commissar Saviour Kasukuwere had a torrid year as war veterans demanded that President Robert Mugabe must fire him for allegedly destroying the party from within.

Zanu PF commissar Saviour Kasukuwere had a torrid year as war veterans demanded that President Robert Mugabe must fire him for allegedly destroying the party from within.

the big interview BY EVERSON MUSHAVA

The former fighters say Kasukuwere is a member of the G40 faction that is allegedly putting spanners into Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s bid to succeed Mugabe.

As Zanu PF headed to the just-ended conference in Masvingo, Kasukuwere was among Zanu PF bigwigs whose future was not guaranteed, more so after he was identified by state-controlled media as the brains behind a Mashonaland Central resolution that Mugabe’s deputies be subjected to elections.

However, to everyone’s surprise, the resolution gained traction at the conference and Kasukuwere, popularly known as Tyson in the party because of his big frame, was a relieved man. Kasukuwere (SK) granted our chief reporter Everson Mushava (EM) an exclusive interview on his tribulations, the just-ended conference and the state of the party. Below are excerpts of the interview.

EM: As one of the organisers of the conference, what is your assessment of the event? Did it live up to expectations?

SK: Very successful, it was a very successful conference in various ways. First, it brought the entire party leadership together in unity, we lived up to the theme of this year — unity and peace — and this was exhibited, contrary to what people were saying before the conference.

This conference has ended on a high note with His Excellency [Mugabe] speaking directly to the party leadership on the challenges and some of the areas of concern and some of the resolutions that have come from the various thematic committees as well as from the provinces, coupled with very vibrant debates in the thematic committees. This conference was one of the best conferences the party has ever held.

EM: In the run-up to the conference, you were accused of sponsoring the resolution by Mashonaland Central challenging one centre of power. Was there truth in the allegations?

SK: Who challenges the one centre of power? We don’t respond to that madness. Ultimately, the authority to appoint rests with President Mugabe.

The question of cadres being elected to positions does not, at all, threaten or question the one centre of power; in fact, the president himself is elected, and there is nothing wrong in ensuring that all party cadres holding leadership positions go through the same exercise. That is democracy.

EM: Some party members, who include war veterans, have asked Mugabe to recall you from your national commissar post saying you have failed. What is your comment on that?

SK: Whoever said that are entitled to their opinions. As far as I am concerned, I have not failed. That’s all I can say.

EM: What is your reaction to allegations that you and the likes of Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and Youth, Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao are the ring leaders of the G40 faction?

SK: There is nothing like that. Zhuwao is a colleague. I have been working with him since time immemorial; we have been youth league members together. It is not only Zhuwao who I am friends with, Professor Moyo is my friend too, a colleague minister.

I have colleagues that I work with on a day-to-day basis, [and] with Cde Zhuwao, Cde Moyo, we study in the same class [at the University of Zimbabwe’s law faculty].

We are contemporaries, we are classmates. It doesn’t make us a faction. When we are three people, I believe Prof Moyo once explained it, you cannot call three people a faction. We are friends with many other friends who are in this room, why don’t you call us three friends? Why do you call us a faction?

EM: War veterans have publicly accused you of using your position as commissar to push a G40 agenda. What is your reaction to such allegations?

SK: I have tremendous respect for the war veterans of this country and I respect the roles they played in liberating this country. They have continued to work among the people, with the people.

I will not respond to the views of expelled cabalists. War veterans are a very important part of society who must be respected, but not those who would have swayed and delved in regime change politics. Why should I be forced to respect people who have gone against the party, who have gone against the constitution of our party, who have gone against the ideology, who are now working with Tajamuka, trying to sell the party, trying to ferment the problems, working with white imperialists and going around the whole world trying to demonise the leadership of the country?

We will not respect that and that is not the calibre of war veterans we are talking about. The war veterans of this country are a highly-esteemed lot.

Let us separate those from genuine war veterans. We had war veterans who made decisions at the conference.

The party is not against any war veterans; they are part and parcel of our history, but those who would have lost their way cannot be allowed to tarnish the image of the party and country.

EM: What is your relationship with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa? Are you opposed to the idea of him succeeding Mugabe as alleged by your opponents in Zanu PF?

SK: President Mugabe is still in office; President Mugabe has the mandate of the people. President Mugabe is our 2018 candidate.

I cannot stray from the principle, from the leadership structure, that the man in the office is President Mugabe and start saying I support so and so and I don’t support so and so.

Cde Mnangagwa is the vice-president; Cde [Phelekezela] Mphoko is the vice-president, all under Cde Mugabe. That is the presidium. This is the hierarchy of our party, but you see some of you want to create problems, you are trouble makers, you are nuisance givers, and you always come up with new things.

How is one succeeded when he is still in office?

EM: What are Zanu PF’s greatest challenges today and do you see the party coming out of this conflict intact?

SK: What conflict? There is no conflict.

EM: The issue of factionalism

SK: There is no factionalism, which factions are you talking about? Those that exist in your mind and in your papers, we don’t know them.

EM: Factionalism, we have been in the conference and Mugabe openly admitted to factionalism and indiscipline.

SK: Fighting each other does not make a faction. There is no factionalism in Zanu PF. People differ here and there and it is expected in a political gathering. People express their views and that forms democracy.

EM: But the president admitted to it. Anyway, let us then zero in on infighting, do you see the party coming out of it?

SK: Well, the party came here united and will leave this place united. We are happy that we had been provided with very good leadership from His Excellency; all the party members have sung from the same hymn book, we are talking the same language.

We are now going back to give this message to all the party structures across the country, and there are no differences at all.

The resolutions and discussions were very amicable, everybody contributed across the country and we are excited and delighted that Zanu PF has always provided room for robust discussions and what we have agreed on is how the party moves.

Anybody who leaves what we have agreed on is straying from the revolutionary path. As far as we are concerned, this was a very successful conference. All issues were discussed, the economy was a major issue, ZimAsset, the role of ministers in various sectors of the economy has been extensively debated. The president has spoken to us at the close of the conference and we are all solidly behind the president and will work to make sure that ZimAsset succeeds. We turn around the economy and win 2018.

EM: As commissar, do you think you have been fair in handling Zanu PF disputes?

SK: I don’t handle any dispute myself; disputes are handled by the party’s national disciplinary committee. So there is nothing personal, am sure they may not be informed on how this process or these processes are carried out.

The party has mechanisms, which are the disciplinary committee, and if any members of the party are not happy about the behaviour of individuals, it is always cascaded up. It can’t be personalised.

It has nothing to do with me at a personal level. Just now, the people of Mashonaland West have brought back Cde Webster Shamu, he has bounced back into the central committee.

This party has an amazing way of handling internal contradictions that cadres who are loyal to the party, even if they feel the party has been heavy-handed in dealing with them, look at the benefits of how the party proceeds. We work together. We have today brought back some members of the party and this is the mission we have in 2017. We have to solidly build our party, to bring back those who might have left the party unfairly or fairly, but who toe the party line.

EM: MDC-T accuses you of unfairly targeting its councillors so that you can re-establish Zanu PF control in areas where the ruling party lost elections in the past. Is that your strategy?

SK: The MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai confirmed just a few weeks ago that the MDC-T is rotten to the core. So for them to accuse me of their own corruption will be unfair. I will have to discharge my responsibilities as minister.

When we carry out audits, inquiries and we find out there is corruption, we will be left with no option but to tackle it.

So for anybody to accuse me of doing my work, I can’t say much, [but] if they have problems with how I do my work, it is not my problem, but I have a problem when they steal from the poor.

EM: As Local Government minister, you have been at the forefront of parcelling out land in urban areas using Zanu PF platforms. Why are you discriminating against Zimbabweans that do not subscribe to Zanu PF policies?

SK: But we are making land available to citizens who are homeless, and to say that they should not benefit just because you hate them, it is unacceptable.

We are carrying out these robust programmes that are necessary to develop our country so that we meet our goal of housing by the year 2020.