Under-fire Zanu-PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere's fate is now up to President Robert Mugabe's mercy, analysts said yesterday.
This comes as the chorus for his ouster is getting louder, as seven provinces have so far demanded his ejection from the ruling party, with the Mashonaland East provincial executive council on Wednesday becoming the latest.
Manicaland, Matabeleland North and Matabelaland South are the only provinces yet to pass their resolution on the combative Local Government minister — popularly known as Tyson.
Mugabe has apparently ordered all Zanu-PF structures to stop the current push to pull the trigger the politician, and his brother Dickson Mafios — the party's Mashonaland Central chairperson.
The nonagenarian was apparently concerned about both the impact of the bid to oust Kasukuwere from his powerful position in the troubled ruling party — particularly with the watershed 2018 elections around the corner — as well as the inability or unwillingness of those at the forefront of the push to follow due process.
Until now, Kasukuwere and Mafios' political careers had hung by a thread after their party nemesis hit them with a slew of damaging charges, including claims that they were plotting to topple 93-year-old Mugabe from power and were fanning factionalism in the warring former liberation movement.
This saw several anti-Kasukuwere demonstrations — which are kisses of death in the faction-riddled ruling party — being mounted in Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Masvingo, amid swirling speculation that Mugabe wanted the Local Government minister out.
The no-confidence votes signal Kasukuwere's fall from grace, insiders say, and marks one of the most stunning upsets in the ruling party's 54-year-old political history.
It is perhaps the most significant jolt to the establishment since the start of a crusade allegedly spearheaded by his rival party faction rallying behind Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa's mooted presidential aspirations. Kasukuwere fronts Mnangagwa's Zanu-PF foes, which goes by the moniker Generation 40 (G40) and are rabidly opposed to him succeeding Mugabe.
Professor of world politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, Stephen Chan, said: "I would view him as a first major casualty within the Zanu-PF struggles, particularly within what was the G40. It means there is no coherence in terms of personality or programme with which to confront the faction spearheaded by Mnangagwa.
"The lack of a personality — a standard-bearer — and a programme is one thing. Hanging your dirty washing out on such public view only indicates the depth of division."
"Kasukuwere's blunder for which he is now paying a price was to show ambition. I think he will be removed from his party position but still keep his position in government.
"This is in a bid to ‘contain' him and ensure that he does not continue to manipulate party structures to suit his political agenda. It is clear now that the President is clearing the ground for his wife to take over when he steps down. Kasukuwere's ouster is part of the re-alignment of forces within Zanu and more people will be shown the exit until this goal is achieved," he said.
This comes as Mugabe's wife, Grace, is rising to Zanu-PF's top ranks, amid suspicion that the leader could be grooming her to eventually succeed him.
Kasukuwere was touted as a potential successor within the party, analysts see the crusade against him as meant to neutralise him as a threat.
Piers Pigou, senior consultant at the International Crisis Group said in response to the public demonstrations against Kasukuwere, Mugabe pointed to Zanu-PF having its own internal processes to address allegations of wrongdoing.
"This afforded Kasukuwere a measure of protection, and certainly highlighted his dependency on the president for his protection, at least from a procedural point of view," Pigou told the Daily News.
"What follows in terms of statements from provincial executives several of whose own configuration is questionable, as well as the Youth league, appears to be a part of choreographed efforts, some argue that is driven from within the presidency, to re-calibrate internal factional dynamics and reinforce loyalties.
"It is unclear at this juncture whether Kasukuwere will meet Mujuru's fate, and or whether his position as commissar will be put on hold pending a long winding disciplinary process," he said referring to Mugabe firing his deputy, Joice Mujuru, in 2014 in a power struggle over the choice of his successor.
"Will Kasukuwere fight his corner or submit in the hope of fighting another day? After all, Mnangagwa made it back from the ministry of Rural Sanitation to VP in 10 years."
Pigou said Zanu-PF needs an unencumbered political commissariat in place to work with and mobilize party structures ahead of the crunch 2018 elections.
"Given Kasukuwere is increasingly seen as divisive, it seems unlikely that it is in Zanu-PF's interest to retain him in this position," he said.
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