President Robert Mugabe was influenced to turn against Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere after being lobbied by a businessman close to his wife and a State House official angered by a $20 million land deal that turned sour, The Standard exclusively reveals today.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Kasukuwere, the Zanu PF commissar, could lose his party position after his rivals launched a vicious attack against him that culminated in a demonstration against him and his brother Dickson Mafios in Bindura last week.
He is accused of corruption and plotting to topple Mugabe, allegations the minister vehemently denies.
This paper has now established that the brawl has nothing to do with Mugabe’s succession but a personal war between Kasukuwere and controversial businessman Jimayi Muduvuri.
Muduvuri has been bankrolling Grace’s activities and was instrumental in the first lady’s brutal purge that claimed the scalps of Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Eunice Sandi Moyo and Hurungwe East MP Sarah Mahoka.
The two resigned from the Zanu PF women’s league executive last week after they were accused of stealing party funds and plotting against Grace.
A wave of demonstrations where expensively printed placards were on display were used to put pressure on Sandi Moyo and Mahoka.
The same tactics are being used against Kasukuwere, a leading figure in Zanu PF’s G40 faction.
Kasukuwere’s battles have been described as a culmination of a tussle between G40 and a faction linked to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa but tartling new details show that the multi-million land in Norton is the source of the minister’s troubles.
Zanu PF sources privy to the latest upheavals in the ruling party said Kasukuwere could have entangled himself in the messy affair soon after his appointment as Local Government minister in 2015.
He allocated Muduvuri 200 ha of land in Norton’s Knockmallch area. However, the minister later withdrew the land saying the government wanted such deals to be above board.
“After the land offer was withdrawn in 2016, Muduvuri tried to engage Kasukuwere to no avail as the minister constantly said Cabinet had directed that all land trades were supposed to go through public tender or partner with Urban Development Corporation (Udcorp),” a senior government official said on condition of anonymity.
Muduvuri had allegedly partnered with State House principal director Innocent Tizora. Tizora had formed a housing cooperative mainly composed of workers at State House and named it Imbahuru.
“The state has over 800 ha of land at Knockmallch and it had initially given the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 50 ha, youths 100 ha, Udcorp 300 ha, the Norton town council 150 ha and Muduvuri through his investment vehicle named Beyond Realities, 200 ha,” another source said.
“But later on, the minister changed his mind and instructed that Muduvuri partners Udcorp but he refused.
“From the 200 ha Muduvuri had given part of the land to Tizora for his housing cooperative which benefits workers under the department of state residences.”
In July last year, according to sources, Muduvuri wrote a letter to Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko complaining about Kasukuwere’s conduct.
Tabeth Kanengoni, a Minister of State in the VP’s office referred Muduvuri back to Kasukuwere. The minister refused to entertain the businessman.
Kanengoni did not take part in the women’s league that resolved to fire Sandi Moyo and Mahoka amid revelations that she was also being targeted.
Meanwhile, Muduvuri continued to sell the housing stands he had developed on the disputed land.
Kasukuwere. according to sources, told Local Government officials to reject a layout plan from Muduvuri or any other private land developer saying it was “now government policy that all land deals and servicing would be done through Udcorp”.
Muduvuri then sought Grace’s help in his dispute with the minister.
As part of a charm offensive, bought bicycles that were donated by the first lady during her rally in Morombedzi –Zvimba last year and built 10 model houses in Kadoma that were donated to the president’s wife.
The money was allegedly raised from the sale of stands from the Norton land.
At the same time Muduvuri approached Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa who engaged Kasukuwere in December last year over the matter.
The minister allegedly promised the VP that he will reverse the deal but did not deliver.
“Tizora and Muduvuri approached Mugabe on the matter as pressure mounted from the stand beneficiaries, a report that unsettled Mugabe,” the source indicated.
“The first lady has a pending visit to Kadoma to officially open 10 houses constructed by the Muduvuri for her. So anyone messing around him will get in trouble with her.”
Kasukuwere confirmed that he had a fall-out with Muduvuri over the Norton land. He said he could not sell state land to individuals without Mugabe’s authority.
“I don’t have any land to sell any individual,” he said.
“Government is very clear, state land belongs to the president.
“Yes I know there is a land issue involving Muduvuri but as I have said, I can only do so if the president says so.”
But he refused to comment on the recent political developments that have left his political career hanging by a thread. Kasukuwere said he does not want to discuss Zanu PF internal issues in the media.
Muduvuri, although confirming that he would be handing the 10 houses to Grace anytime from now, dismissed accusations that he had a hand in the lobby against Kasukuwere.
“We are only waiting for her to be free,” he said. “Why should I fight Kasukuwere my brother?
“He is my brother a Moyo for that matter and I am also a Moyo (totem). I won’t be involved in fighting him.”
Sources, however, insisted that a dossier given to Mugabe by Tizora and Muduvuri was behind Kasukuwere’s woes.
The report, according to sources, contained claims that Kasukuwere was using the on-going Zanu PF restructuring exercise to unseat Mugabe.
His critics said the Zanu PF commissar was being bankrolled by Midlands’ businesswomen Smelly Dube and a local religious leader. Zanu PF supporters in Gweru on Monday demonstrated against Dube accusing her of sponsoring factionalism.
“(The report) contained allegations that Kasukuwere and other Zanu PF bigwigs close to Kasukuwere were using the first lady to fight Mnangagwa for their own benefit as they had a plan to topple her,” said an insider.
Two weeks ago, a fuming Kasukuwere named Muduvuri as one of the people behind stories targeting him in the state media during a function in Mt Darwin.
“If the minister does not return the land to Muduvuri and make amends with the president on some issues such as his relationship with war veterans and dispel rumours that he was plotting to unseat Gushungo (Mugabe’s totem) he is gone,” another source said.
“If these two guys (Tizora and Muduvuri) are happy, they have the power to go and negotiate with Mugabe to pardon him although it would be known that they did this for their personal gains.
“Also the first lady would come in and plead for him.”
Sources said Muduvuri had to travel to Bulawayo during the anti-Sandi-Moyo campaign to ensure the success of the demonstration against her as she was seen as a Kasukuwere ally.
Muduvuri, sources said used his personal resources to cause her ouster although the real target was Kasukuwere.
Grace, it has been revealed, was persuaded that Sandi Moyo threatened her ambitions to be vice president and was instrumental in her ouster.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo allegedly tried to stop the demonstrations but was stopped by Grace after Muduvuri informed her.
“When Chombo called Muduvuri to halt the demonstration he had been alerted by security chiefs that the protests which were to take place at party headquarters were going to give the police more work as the event coincided with a demonstration organised by opposition parties under Nera (National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera),” the source said.
“But Muduvuri, in his wisdom or lack of it lack, or due to political and personal pressure, he rebuffed Chombo’s plea to halt the protests.
“It is fortunate that Nera’s demonstration flopped and the worst fears by the security chiefs did not come to pass.”
Chombo and Tizora were unavailable for comment as their mobile phones went unanswered.