MEMBERS of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) are ratcheting up pressure on President Robert Mugabe to demote or dismiss national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere at the ruling party’s annual conference scheduled for the resort town of Victoria Falls next month.
The Financial Gazette exclusively reports that the easily irritable fighters of the 1970s bush war want to have a person with liberation war credentials to head the commissariat department, which Kasukuwere has been running since December last year.
Kasukuwere was only 10 years-old at the time the boisterous war veterans delivered the country’s independence on April 18, 1980.
In the past, the war veterans have declared the office of the President to be a no-go-area for those without liberation war credentials.
A fortnight ago, members of ZNLWVA said the position of national political commissar should also be a preserve of those who participated in the protracted bush war.
Relations between the former liberation war fighters and Kasukuwere have been frosty following his utterances which were viewed by the war veterans as demeaning their status and role in bringing about freedom to Zimbabwe.
The long-running standoff started when Kasukuwere branded them a bunch of drunkards and taxi drivers in May after the former freedom fighters criticised him for blocking them from participating in Parliamentary by-elections held on June 10 in favour of youthful party members.
And since then verbal tirades and threats have been traded between him and the war veterans.
Now the Financial Gazette can authoritatively report that Kasukuwere’s days could be numbered as Zanu PF’s head of the commissariat.
ZNLWVA provincial chairpersons held a meeting in Harare on November 15 where it was agreed that Kasukuwere should be shown the exit door at the earliest convenient moment.
The meeting, chaired by the ZNLWVA national deputy chairman, Headman Moyo, in the absence of the association’s leader, Chris Mutsvangwa, was also attended by senior national executive members including secretary general, Victor Matemadanda and Patrick Nyaruwata.
This week, Matemadanda confirmed that there was a resolution to get rid of Kasukuwere.
“That would be a very wise resolution. War veterans can make good political commissars. They have a history of uniting the party,” he said, after being contacted for comment.
“What I can assure you is that war veterans are not happy at all with the way the party is being run. They think someone strong should be controlling the party because it’s the commissariat that runs the party. It should thus never be associated with a faction. The commissar should as such be neutral, and consulting, which is not the case with Kasukuwere,” Matemadanda said.
Kasukuwere refused to entertain the Financial Gazette when contacted for comment.
“You always write rubbish about me so I do not want to talk to you. Just go on and write what you like,” he charged before cutting off the line.
Sources who attended the war veterans meeting said the restless ex-fighters have collectively vowed not to rest until Kasukuwere is removed from office.
“The provincial chairpersons had come to proffer their resolutions for the conference and one which they unanimously agreed on was that Kasukuwere must go,” said a senior member of the ZNLWVA national executive who spoke on condition of anonymity because the resolutions are being kept a closely guarded secret until they have been presented to President Mugabe.
“As war veterans, we are going to advocate that the position of national political commissar should be given to someone with liberation war credentials or at least someone who has a better appreciation of the revolutionary processes and ideals. People might be good at sloganeering and singing but if they don’t understand the party’s ideology and line, you start to see confusion creeping into the party,” the war veteran added.
The source then said: “We are going to be vocal at the conference. In the end we know it is the President who has the power to appoint whoever he wishes, but we are going to call for Kasukuwere’s head.”
Another war veteran who attended the meeting said the war veterans had been irked by Kasukuwere’s ‘factional tendencies’.
Kasukuwere is believed to be fronting a faction in ZANU-PF which reportedly seeks to renew the party from within by replacing elderly party members with Young Turks.
The faction — operating under the banner of Generation 40 (G40) — is also believed to be determined to block Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa’s alleged presidential ambitions.
Chaperoned by their razor tongued chairman, Mutsvangwa, the easily agitated war veterans have since been rooting for Mnangagwa as a possible heir apparent to President Mugabe.
“If you are a commissar, you should not belong to any faction. If you chose to belong to a faction, then you must resign from that position. Now that is the problem we have with the current commissar. He has no strength to pull himself out of a faction and that is what we are seeking to address,” he charged, adding: “We are in the house and the house is not in order. We put the blame squarely on him.”
The sources could, however, not be drawn into giving names of those they preferred to take over the hot seat from Kasukuwere although some insiders said former army chief, Henry Muchena, who walked out of the commissariat office after clashing with Kasukuwere only a few days after he was appointed was being lined up as his to replacement.