Kasukuwere summoned by Grace

ZANU PF Women’s League boss First Lady Grace Mugabe has reportedly summoned and directed party national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere to dump his preferred candidate for Harare East constituency, Terrence Mukupe, and mobilise support for Mavis Gumbo, for the June 10 by-election.

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By RICHARD CHIDZA/XOLISANI NCUBE

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Kasukuwere

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Party insiders said Grace issued the directive this week after the Electoral Court gave Mukupe and Gumbo the greenlight to both contest the by-election as Zanu PF candidates.

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Grace has lately emerged as “Zanu PF Kingmaker” with reports saying she wielded significant influence on most decisions made by her 91-year-old husband, President Robert Mugabe.

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“She has given a directive to Kasukuwere that the party backs Gumbo. I am not sure if we will wait for a politburo meeting for this one,” a source close to the development told NewsDay yesterday.

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Gumbo is former Zimbabwe Women’s Football boss and ex-Zifa board member.

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The ruling party has been sharply divided over Gumbo and Mukupe’s candidatures with Kasukuwere reportedly backing Mukupe while national secretary for administration Ignatius Chombo and Zanu PF Harare provincial acting chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa were behind Gumbo.

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The Chombo camp was reportedly heavily connected to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa with strong links to the country’s security apparatus, while Mukupe has the backing of Kasukuwere and a group of youthful Zanu PF politicians derisively known as Generation 40.

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“The First Lady, who is the Women’s League boss, has indicated that they are backing a woman to represent the party, leaving Kasukuwere clutching at straws in his bid to have Mukupe stand,” the insider said.

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“But the other camp is still lobbying to have their case heard (by the politburo) on the grounds that Mukupe won the primary elections and was allowed to stand as the candidate by the provincial elections directorate despite their reservations at the time.”

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The matter spilled into the Electoral Court this week after Mukupe filed an appeal challenging the rejection of nomination papers by the nomination court.

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Mukupe — a career banker — had won the party primary elections, but was disqualified from representing Zanu PF after some party members questioned his track record. It was also argued that he had not been a Zanu PF card-carrying member prior to Mugabe’s announcement of the snap poll.

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Yesterday, Masimirembwa told NewsDay that Zanu PF Harare province would now awaits direction from the national leadership.
\n“As a province, we did what we could do and we now await the national leadership to give us direction,” he said.

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Kasukuwere yesterday said he was in a meeting, while Chombo was said to be out of the country.

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According to the Zanu PF insiders, Masimirembwa’s executive wanted Mukupe to be disqualified, although the national commissariat, headed by Kasukuwere, decided otherwise. The Harare East seat fell vacant after expelled MDC-T MP Tendai Biti crossed the floor to the MDC Renewal Team. – News Day