Zanu-PF national political commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere (SK) says the restructuring of the party is not a one-man show. He says that people should not overestimate the capacity of former Vice President Joice Mujuru as she was just a member not “the Alpha and Omega” of the revolutionary party. Here are excerpts of the wide-ranging interview with our political editor Tichaona Zindoga (TZ).
TZ: What is the state of your restructuring of the party and is this a one-man show as has been expressed in some quarters?
SK: After completing structures in Mashonaland this week, our next port of call will be Harare where we have a lot of work to do. This is the capital and the party will be mobilising itself to ensure that we solidly build a party base for itself in Harare. We are not going to allow a situation where Harare remains a problem child of the party – failing to perform and to deliver. We have serious concerns over some of the chaotic situations that are occurring in the provincial leadership in Harare. Uncalled for suspensions of members within the province, lack of discipline in the province, failure to take orders from national leadership and the chaos that was created leading to the debacle with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
These are serious issues that we are very concerned about and we will soon be looking at the Harare province with the view to rectifying these situations and have a leadership that respects orders. If a province is given orders by the national leadership it must draw the line and there is no room for toying around and let alone disobeying what comes from the national leadership. We have several instances in which provincial leadership behave as if they are bigger than the party. While we recognise that everyone has rights within the party, when the Politburo makes a decision it has to be respected.
TZ: Are you not worried about fissures that have been created in Harare? We have now heard that Harare Province Youth League chairman Godwin Gomwe’s house was bombed and is that not pointing to some serious divisions?
SK: Exactly and these are some of the issues that are concerning us that in Harare we are seeing some very disturbing trends and so we have to move in to bring normalcy and order to Harare. The bombing of Cde Gomwe’s house and many other sad developments point to a disturbing trend and picture emerging out of Harare.
TZ: Masvingo has also been problematic. Can you highlight the state of restructuring and the party in Masvingo?
SK: So far the reports I have been receiving from the team leadership in Masvingo point to a positive picture with regards to the restructuring. For now we are strictly looking at the restructuring. There are always other peripheral issues that are coming up which at times should not really be like jumping the gun per se, done or communicated otherwise by provinces. But I am generally pleased with the restructuring in Masvingo, what has been done so far. That picture that we have been given so far is positive and we want to build on the successes more than the negatives.
TZ: But we hear that the province is considering recommending the suspension of some people like Cde Walter Mzembi, what is your take on that?
SK: The province, like any other province, is free to make their recommendations and those recommendations must come to the party leadership. What we are concerned about is public statements made in the course of us undertaking our duties. There is a structure; there is the secretary for information whose main job is to make announcements on behalf of the party involving decisions taken by the party leadership such as those involving disciplinary matters and so forth.
I think I spoke about this last week that provincial leadership must not publicise or let alone carry out their activities especially those to deal with membership of the party in the open. We must always be respectful of all the processes we undertake and ensure that if we have recommendations, before the leadership has acted, let us not judge and find guilty individuals. Let that information be transmitted to the leadership.
Secondly, we also want to avoid situations where individuals seeking power are victimising others for their own personal aggrandisement and will rush to the Press to denigrate and damage others without following the due process. The party is very clear, we are not in the business or rather overly excited when it comes to throwing people out. If there is a grave situation that requires the party to take action, the party has taken action before and will continue to take action in the future. But all this must be conducted with dignity and maturity.
TZ: Speaking about the forthcoming by-elections, some people have been pointing out that the people who have filled in are Mujuru elements that are coming back. Can you comment on the quality of people coming back or filling the vacancies that were left by the putschist cabal?
SK: I want to caution people from overestimating Mujuru’s influence. Zanu-PF and the President have more support than anybody else. There can never be any day where someone, and I am speaking right now, has more support, more following than His Excellency the President. Now let us again avoid damaging individuals for your own purposes or for your own sake. The candidates who have won the by-elections right now, Mai Auxcillia Mnangagwa, in Mt Darwin we have Cde Barnwell Seremwe, these are strong party cadres in their own right who support the President, and the party and who have been in the party for a long time and are tried and tested. So for one to wake up in the morning and say, “I think that one is a Mujuru loyalist” is to stretch our imagination at times too far and think that Mujuru was the Alpha and the Omega of Zanu-PF. Never!
Most of the membership in the party are people who support the President and his policies. Admittedly, some people have been confused that maybe the President was going to retire and Mai Mujuru would take over which was far from the truth. The President is in charge and, of course, there are some people who just follow willy-nilly without thinking. They get to a stage where they land themselves into trouble because perhaps they are not mature enough in politics to understand that you do not follow an individual who is aspiring, who thinks they are the ultimate deciders.
Again we have cases of people who were intimidated by simply saying “You got this post because so and so stood for you”. So there was this grand scheming behaviour which got some of our cadres in that thinking that there was a political process leading to the retirement of the President and so if they wanted to remain in politics or remain occupying powerful positions they should be seen behind so and so.
Now, we must distinguish those from those who were eagerly or who were keenly plotting to see the President out of the office using all sorts of manner and ways to try and achieve their objective from those who were basically followers. So the party continues to look at all these issues in a very clinical manner to ensure that those who were not spearheading anything are not made to pay a price for just being followers who did not know why they should have been doing that. We want to ensure that the party remains strong, the party remains united and the party moves forward. Those with bad ideas must have those ideas corrected and this is one of the things that are done in a revolution.
You must always sit to correct those with the wrong ideas and the wrong notions and ensure that they understand exactly what the party stands for. The party has objectives and policies. The party is there, the President of the party is there. We went to a congress,; we selected and chose unanimously, President Mugabe and he has continued to be our leader. He is the leader of the country and the party is in power, that is what we must focus on.
TZ: Some people are claiming that you are building your own power base . . .
SK: You see, again, that shows the level at times of lack of political education. I think we must work hard on it. Each and every one of us has been assigned a responsibility. I have been assigned the job of being the political commissar, keeping the party winning the elections, ensuring that the provinces, the structures are intact. We have gone out to restructure the party, not as an individual but we have assigned key Politburo members to lead the processes in all the provinces.
Now it is not Kasukuwere doing it. It is us all as a unit, as a political unit, as Zanu-PF. We will design the programmes but we have to ask our colleagues, political leaders, to carry out these tasks. So Kasukuwere will not restructure a province in his own right. Kasukuwere works with other members of the party who are leading the restructuring actually. It is a negative view which was put out by Rugare Gumbo which any serious Zanu-PF person will not subscribe to, this is nonsensical. Why do you have to put the cart before the horses? I have a job to do; I do not have time to be thinking or to be allowing my enemies to have agendas for me, no.
TZ: Ok. And, lastly, people are also saying post-congress Zanu-PF has already split and they are even pointing to a rift between you – perhaps what Rugare Gumbo calls a “Gang of Four” – and Vice President Mnangagwa.
SK: Remember I am on record as having said very clearly that we stand behind the leadership of our party, number one the President and the appointments that he made of Cde Emmerson) Mnangagwa, who is a seasoned cadre of the party, of Cde (Phelekezela) Mphoko, another seasoned liberation hero. These are the leaders who we are working with who have been appointed by the President.
You will recall the statement that I made that we stand firmly behind the decision and the appointment of these two senior colleagues who have been in the party for a long time. Now those who are dreaming of a division are wasting their time. Our leadership knows exactly where we stand and what we are doing. We are 100 percent behind the leadership that the President appointed. We are 100 percent behind President Mugabe. So Zanu-PF is not divided. Zanu-PF is a very strong political party. All those who are making those statements or innuendos are trying to actually find ways of destroying the party but they will not succeed. We have gone through that before, we will be going through it again now and in the future but we are not shaken. We are very clear about who is who and there is no room for division. We are very well set to achieve our goals and objectives.