ZANU PF political bigwigs are on a renewed collision course over attempts to oust the party's national commissar Saviour Kasukuwere after a heated politburo meeting on Wednesday failed to bring the matter to finality, setting the stage for battle royale next week, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.
This came as the report, exclusively obtained by the Independent, presented to the politburo by the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda -- who chaired a five-member probe team appointed to investigate allegations against Kasukuwere -- recommended that state security services were better placed to scrutinise charges against the national political commissar concerning parallel structures and plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe, which implies treason.
Mudenda's committee found on the main issue that it was "difficult to establish a nexus between the allegation of the formation of parallel structures and the removal of the president".
"This position is compounded by the fact that the national political commissar has approached the High Court to prove his innocence," the report says.
However, it also says the Mashonaland Central provincial leadership left "a lot to be desired in terms of the shambolic state of administrative and financial records, as well as party assets".
The report accuses provincial leaders of unprocedurally co-opting members into their structures
and negatively influencing the party's operations and activities.
Indications that Kasukuwere -- who is likely to survive the political storm given his effective exoneration on the main charge -- was headed for a fierce confrontation with Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa were clear during Wednesday's politburo tense meeting.
Senior politburo members said an air of hostility enveloped the meeting as Mnangagwa and Kasukuwere geared for a titanic battle over the issue, which has a huge bearing on Zanu PF's balance of forces ahead of the party's December annual conference -- which could be changed into an extraordinary congress -- and Mugabe's succession battle.
Zanu PF is currently locked in a vicious power struggle, with two rival factions, one led by Mnangagwa and the other by First lady Grace Mugabe, at each other's throats. The Mnangagwa group wants its leader to succeed Mugabe, while G40 is fronting Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi to take over.
Officials said after several politburo members presented various reports, including on agriculture, mining, Mugabe's current rallies and the state of the party which Kasukuwere himself delivered, Mnangagwa asked the political commissar to excuse himself as the next agenda item concerned his issue.
"After several politburo officials presented their reports on various issues, Mnangagwa, who presided over the Kasukuwere issue, asked the political commissar to go out of the meeting," one senior official said. "Kasukuwere was reluctant until Mugabe urged him to leave the room. He then reluctantly left to go upstairs to the party's offices while the Mudenda report was being debated."
Another official said during the debate senior officials led by Mnangagwa, including Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Cleveria Chizema and Obert Mpofu, came out guns blazing against Kasukuwere, while Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko -- a G40 kingpin -- defended him.
Officials say the Kasukuwere issue is about gaining control of the provincial structures to occupy strategic positions and ground ahead of conference or congress, and taking charge of the succession struggle by the scruff of the neck.
"Muchinguri-Kashiri pushed for the dissolution of the provincial party structures ahead of the December conference or extraordinary congress, claiming Kasukuwere had set up his parallel structures," one official said.
The official added Chizema proposed Mugabe should now decide what he wants to do on the issue.
"Chizema said 'Your Excellency, we all represent our provinces and these party structures spoke through the demonstrations. You also dispatched a team to Mashonaland Central to further investigate the issue so it is better that you decide how to handle the whole issue'," a senior politburo official said.
The official also said Mphoko argued the investigation was a witch-hunt, to which Mugabe reportedly asked who the witch, the hunter and the hunted were. The probe team was formed after Zanu PF members presented a petition accusing Kasukuwere, his brother acting chairperson Dickson Mafios and the provincial secretary for administration Wonder Mashange of planning to topple Mugabe.
"They have been fanning factionalism, running parallel structures and being disrespectful to the leadership of the party," reads the petition, attached to Mudenda's report.
Mudenda's report, read by the Independent, states that: "It is the finding of the committee that the petition had been delivered to His Excellency the president and First Secretary of Zanu PF Cde RG Mugabe, resulting in His Excellency appointing a probe committee which was guided by the terms of reference provided by the national secretary for administration.
"The committee affirms that eleven allegations were elaborated in the verbatim report as submissions by members of the provincial co-ordinating committee during the probe in compliance with the first term of reference.
"The probe team discovered that there were two contending groups. One group had a prominent member in the person of the national political commissar S Kasukuwere, while the other had the minister of State for provincial affairs Martin Dinha. A further finding by the committee was that the co-option process was irregular and unprocedural, hence the interpretation of parallel structures pronounced mainly in the main wing and Women's League.
"Flowing from the above unprocedural and irregular co-options, the committee noted that such actions victimised members of the party so affected by these irregular and unprocedural co-options as well as the indiscriminate transfers of party civil servants."
The report also states that: "The leadership of the acting chairperson Dickson Mafios and the provincial secretary for administration Wonder Mashange leaves a lot to be desired in terms of the shambolic state of administrative and financial records as well as party assets.
"This is revealed by the unauthorised sale of party vehicle, unaccounted for funds from the sale of party cards and data forms as well as the abuse of donated funds and building materials."
However, the report says there was no evidence Kasukuwere plotted to oust Mugabe. It said since this implied treason only state security agencies could competently probe the issue.
"It is therefore recommended that the state security apparatus and other intelligence arms of government may be in a better position to make further investigations on the matter," it says.
During the inquiry, Kasukuwere was given a chance to defend himself and he fired ferocious broadsides against his rivals, mainly targeting Mnangagwa.
"We all know the politics of who is pushing this agenda. Our province has just refused to follow a given narrative. All this talk about me replacing the president is naïve. I am a national commissar and my seniors are Mpofu, Ignatious Chombo and the VPs," Kasukuwere told a meeting held at the Bindura Country & Golf Club on April 26.
"The constitution says in the case of the president retiring, resigning or whatever, for 90 days one of the VPs will be in charge. So if I were to say successfully we have dethroned His Excellency how can I take over the throne with such a hierarchy? This is treason. I am accused of treason. There are allegations that I wanted to dethrone His Excellency. I have evidence which I will hand over to you. This is not a small accusation. It is career wrecking and may lead me to prison. I have not gone against the president. I have never planned with anybody to topple our president."
On factionalism and parallel structures, Kasukuwere said: "Some people also talked about parallel party structures and factionalism. There is nothing like that."
Kasukuwere also indirectly attacked Mnangagwa without mentioning him by name, saying: "You move around with helicopters introducing some people in constituencies and holding meetings on regime change. We know you and we know what you are up to. We know you have your own preferred presidential candidate."
He also rounded on War Veterans secretary-general Victor Matemadanda.
"There are individuals who want to make themselves superior as if they are the only ones who fought for the liberation of the country and they will talk as if they started the war from the beginning to the end. Such is the character of Matemadanda. They issued the statement 'The president must go'. It was not me," he said.
Kasukuwere said there were officials who behaved liked Mugabe's "elder sons and daughters", while they were corrupt, unfit for office and wreaking havoc in the province. He said he supported Mugabe to be Zanu PF candidate for the 2018 presidential election, while his rivals want him to go.
Contacted for a comment, Mudenda referred questions to party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo. "We have a spokesperson and his name is SK Moyo. You can call him," he said.
However, Khaya Moyo said he was not aware the Kasukuwere saga was discussed in the politburo. "I am not aware of that so I cannot confirm it," he said. On being asked whether Zanu PF will meet again next week, Moyo said Chombo was the best person to respond to that.