Saviour Kasukuwere’s political career hanging in the balance

SAVIOUR Kasukuwere, the combative ZANU-PF national political commissar, faces a litmus test in his promising political career when the ruling party participates in by-elections set for next month.

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Ray Ndlovu

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  Kasukuwere
\nDespite the denials, his name has often been associated with Generation 40, an obscure grouping of ambitious ZANU-PF young turks who are fighting to renew the party from within.

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With less than a month to go before the elections, the emergence of double candidates for the Harare East constituency is piling pressure on Kasukuwere.

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A lot is expected of Kasukuwere to make a strong statement to the party’s foes, especially those who were sent packing in the last eight months for undermining President Robert Mugabe’s authority, by ensuring a resounding victory for ZANU-PF at the coming snap polls.

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Ever since its action-packed December 2014 congress, ZANU-PF has shown signs that the scars inflicted upon it by the brutal purges which led to the dismissal of former vice president Joice Mujuru from the party, may take some time to heal.

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To nurse the scars ahead of the 2018 national elections, Kasukuwere, as ZANU-PF’s chief organiser, has become the face of a massive re-organisation of the party across the country’s 10 political provinces.

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His responsibilities encompass the supervision of activities of all organs of the party; formulating strategies and implementing them; organising, supervising and conducting elections at all levels of the party, among other things.

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Pressure has been weighing heavily on Kasukuwere’s shoulders from the hard-to-please party apparatchiks ever since he landed the high-pressure job about five months ago — taking over from Webster Shamu, who was reduced to a mere spectator after falling out with the party’s leadership.

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A clean sweep of all the 14 vacant seats which will be contested for would consolidate ZANU-PF’s dominance in Parliament, beyond 200 seats and would drown the opposition parties’ voce in the National Assembly — allowing President Mugabe’s party to do as it pleases in dictating the pace and content of Parliament’s legislative agenda.

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More poignantly, the by-elections are sort of a mini-election for ZANU-PF, offering it the opportunity to test its popularity in the aftermath of the wide-scale party purges that engulfed the ruling party since October last year.

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Kasukuwere’s work has been made a lot easier by the absence of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) parties in the contest as they protest against an uneven electoral playing field that favours ZANU-PF.

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Whether Kasukuwere has succeeded in the first five months of his five-year term will only be seen in the outcome of the by-elections in which 104 candidates are contesting in the 14 constituencies.

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The politician told the Financial Gazette this week that it was important for ZANU-PF to win the by-elections and consolidate its victory at such a critical hour.

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“We are very much on top of the situation and it is important that we have unfettered control of the constituencies so that we can silence all our detractors,” said Kasukuwere.

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Analysts said a convincing ZANU-PF victory would be important for Kasukuwere as it would establish him as a force to reckon with in the ruling party.

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Rashweat Mukundu, a political analyst, said it may not be far-fetched to conclude that Kasukuwere could be among players in the governing party who might be weighing their chances of succeeding President Mugabe, who is now in the twilight of his political career.

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Said Mukundu: “He is probably thinking ahead in terms of where it places him in the ongoing circumstances of internal power struggles and succession politics.”

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Kasukuwere has previously denied harbouring ambitions to succeed President Mugabe.

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Despite the denials, his name has often been associated with Generation 40, an obscure grouping of ambitious ZANU-PF young turks who are fighting to renew the party from within.

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With less than a month to go before the elections, the emergence of double candidates for the Harare East constituency is piling pressure on Kasukuwere. – FinGaz