Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere is reversing many of the controversial decisions that were made by his predecessor Ignatius Chombo, including dubious land deals — as the factional and succession wars ravaging President Robert Mugabe’s post-congress Zanu PF continue unabated.
The latest spat between the two bigwigs, which is said to have “upset Chombo and his allies to no end”, follows their titanic factional clash four months ago — at that time through a proxy war fought over the Harare East by-election that pitted Zanu PF legislator Terrence Mukupe and his then party opponent, Mavis Gumbo.
So bad was the blood between the two then that Kasukuwere launched a scathing and thinly-veiled attack that was widely interpreted as directed at Chombo — making sensational claims that “some” of his senior party colleagues were brazen thieves and criminals who were robbing the poor blind.
Addressing supporters at a rally in Harare to drum up support for Mukupe, an angry Kasukuwere — reeling from the party’s intractable infighting that has seen him being accused of having designs at Mugabe’s and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s positions — shot from the hip, threatening these “criminals” with unspecified action.
Kasukuwere’s “detractors” allege that the youthful Cabinet minister is a prominent member of Zanu PF’s ambitious Young Turks who are known by the moniker Generation 40.
The G40 think-tank is derisively referred to as the Gang of Four, and stands accused of being anti-Mnangagwa, whom Chombo is said to be rooting for in the ruling party’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession wars.
“I will not share a stage with thieves. You are surviving by stealing people’s blood ... I am one of the biggest political thugs. If you are looking for big thugs in Zanu PF, I am one of them. Some of these small little thugs who think they are bigger than the party are playing with fire. Come to the ground and I will deal with you. Come and I will teach you a lesson.
“For the first time, they have met their match. I will not be cowed by thugs. I will tell them the truth. We stood against (former Vice President Joice) Mujuru’s corrupt cabal and we won and what can stop us,” Kasukuwere, who is nicknamed Tyson for his combative political style, thundered then after Chombo crossed his path.
Well-placed sources, as well as documentation that the Daily News obtained yesterday, confirmed Kasukuwere’s resolve to deal ruthlessly with so-called land barons — a few politically-connected individuals who illegally amassed vast tracts of land during Chombo’s much-criticised era as Local Government minister.
Some of the key documentation consists of copies of letters from Kasukuwere’s office cancelling offer letters to co-operatives, individuals and government departments that were given the nod to occupy land in Caledonia, east of Harare, in 2013.
For example, in letters dated May 29, 2013, that were issued ahead of that year’s disputed general elections, Chombo offered housing stands to various government entities that included the Zimbabwe Republic Police (720 stands), the ministry of Women’s Affairs (70 stands), and the Johane Marange Apostolic Church (10 stands).
The office of the Chief Secretary to the President was also apparently allocated 50 residential stands, while the office of the commissioner-general of Police, Augustine Chihuri, was given 20 residential stands.
Other beneficiaries of Chombo’s largesse included the Zimbabwe Defence Forces who got 50 residential stands, and staffers of the cash-strapped Zimbabwe Broadcasting Cooperation (ZBC) who got 10 stands.
Some of the individuals allocated stands during Chombo’s era include former politburo member Tendai Savanhu, former interim Harare chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa and senior Zanu PF official Noah Mangondo.
But Kasukuwere is having none of this, swiftly moving to reverse some of the contentious allocations, that Chombo’s supporters now view as vindictive and factional.
In some letters to this effect that are dated August 26, 2015 and September 9 this year, the Local Government ministry reverses some offer letters on the grounds that the concerned stands are part of farms owned by indigenous people.
“Cancellation of offer of 50 residential stands at Lot 1 of Caledonia, Goromonzi district. Reference is made to the ministry offer of 50 residential stands to your organisation dated 29 May 2013.
“We write to advise you that the offer has been withdrawn. This has been necessitated by the fact that the land acquisition process over Lot 1 of Caledonia farm, which has been earmarked for residential stands, was aborted by the ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement after the latter considered the indigenous ownership of the property, among other reasons.
“We sincerely apologise for any inconveniences this reversal may have caused,” reads parts of some of the letters that bear the signature of Kasukuwere and that were addressed to affected parties that include Savanhu and Mangondo who have both since been booted out of Zanu PF on allegations of supporting Mujuru.
Similarly, the Zimbabwe Congress of Students Unions (Zicosu), a Zanu PF-aligned tertiary students’ body, has also lost 20 stands, amid cries that this had allegedly happened because it supports Mnangagwa.
Apart from Savanhu, Zicosu and Mangondo, other individuals who have also lost their land are Masimirembwa and one Mubariki.
In total, 190 stand allocations have been reversed, with government offering no alternative stands despite the fact that most of the beneficiaries had already developed their properties.
It is not clear whether the security establishment, who are some of the biggest beneficiaries of the land allocations, have also been affected by Kasukuwere’s move, with both analysts and Zanu PF insiders saying yesterday that “the law should not be applied partially”.