HARARE – There conflicting reports that Russia and China are now deeply involved in the on-going Zanu PF infighting amid reports that the country’s Environment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere this week met with Russian spy intelligence officials in Crimea and discussed plants to subvert Mnangagwa’s chances of succeeding Mugabe.
On Thursday a source in the Zimbabwean intelligence told The Zimbabwe Mail that the newly appointed Zanu PF Political Commissar Saviour Kasukuwere had a detailed discussion with KGB officials in Crimea and the source said the Russians have identified a faction in Zanu PF to work with.
Politburo members Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Zhuwao, Saviour Kasukuwere and Oppah Muchinguri now dubbed gang of four are reportedly emerging with the new center of power opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding Mugabe. It is thought that they have only been together in the removal of Joice Mujuru because they both thing she was a soft spot for the West.
It is not clear who the gang of four have in their mind as the right candidate to succeed Mugabe but sources said Moyo himself think highly of Saviour Kasukuwere and he could be his choice and him manuvering to the Vice-President.
In the past Moyo has praised Kasukuwere saying he has done much to bring fresh impetus to indigenisation, although there could be no judgement yet on “the young Turk”. Moyo also labelled Kasukuwere as future leader.
Saviour ‘Tyson’ Kasukuwere hails from the Marondera district where his parents were liberation activists. He attended the University of Berlin before joining Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation as a driver. In 1995, he joined the president’s office before election to Parliament in 2000.
He has pleased president Robert Mugabe, with his violence on the opposition, anti- Western and anti-colonialist stance on issues related to foreign investment. Yet in a WikiLeaks cable, observers noted Kasukuwere’s charm and ambition, suggesting he already had an understanding of how the political regime would shape up post-Mugabe and how he might fit in it. It is therefore thought he has his own ambitions to be a serious candidate and hence the Russians have fallen for him.
Last week Ukraine raised serious concern about his visit to the disputed region of Crimea.
Ukraine is in a bitter dispute with Russia over the control of the region. The Crimea used to be under Kiev but held a referendum, which was supported by just 11 of the 193 United Nations General Assembly member countries in March seeking to go under Russia.
Other nations which supported the annexation include North Korea, Syria, Sudan, Venezuela and Cuba.
Reports from Kiev on Monday said Kasukuwere last week travelled to the disputed region.
Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Joey Bimha, refused to comment saying he was on holiday.
Efforts to get a comment from Kasukuwere and Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi were futile as their mobile phones went unanswered.
However details have now emerged that Kasukuwere is working with Russians and he was representing the gang of four. Our source did not reveal the full details but we understand that the Russians are happy that they have the key players in Zanu PF in Kasukuwere as the party’s political Commissar and Ignatious Chombo as the party’s Secretary for Administration. The pair will over-see party restructuring that will see structures not loyal to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa taking over in all provinces. The plan is to call for an extraordinary congress that will elect a new leader if President Mugabe decides to step down or if he dies before 2018 general elections.
Police investigating the Baba Jukwa case yesterday asked Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo to help them in their investigations by submitting clarifications on issues to do with the case. This follows allegations by Sunday Mail editor Edmund Kudzayi, who is accused of being behind the faceless Facebook character, that he became aware of the Baba Jukwa issue when Environment, Water and Climate Minister Saviour Kasukuwere called him as an IT expert to assess and make an overview of information supplied by an Australian-based hacker only identified as Kennedy.
In an interview with a state weekly, Moyo said Mnangagwa’s rise to the vice-presidency did not mean that he would automatically take over from Mugabe when the 90-year old leaves office.
Moyo said both the Zanu PF and country’s constitutions did not prescribe that Mugabe should select his successor, an argument that was supported by Zhuwao in his weekly column published in the same issue.
“It would be unconstitutional and indeed undemocratic for the president to do that (select his successor). As such, those who want the president to designate a successor are either charlatans or enemies of constitutionalism and democracy,” Moyo said.
“And in the case of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, the current succession provision does not allow for automatic elevation, but requires the political party of the previous incumbent to nominate the successor in accordance with its internal constitutional procedures, and the Zanu PF constitutional procedure provides for the convening of an extraordinary congress to elect a successor should that be necessary.”
Concurring with Moyo, Zhuwao described as “mischievous” assertions that Mnangagwa would automatically take over from Mugabe by virtue of being a VP.
“The appointments are not about succession, nor are the appointments about succession’s toxic cousin, factionalism,” he said.
“Zanu PF’s congress decisively dealt with factionalism and such divisive tendencies in a systematic and institutional manner by resolving to institutionalise a single source of power through amendments to the constitution.
“Zanu PF must never allow the re-emergence of alternative centres of power.”
Party insiders said this week mutual suspicion and tension were rapidly breeding in the alliance.
According to Zhuwao, both Mujuru and Mnangagwa were deemed to be unfit to govern. He made the point that: “For implementation of Zim-Asset to be accelerated, non-performing minister and Zanu PF Politburo members must be fired.”
The thrust of his article is that both Mujuru and Mnangagwa had compromised themselves and, therefore, constructively disqualified themselves from consideration as potential leaders of the post-congress Zanu PF principally because their credentials had allegedly been contaminated by their perceived association with what he terms: “Speculative Political Entrepreneurs (“SPE”.”
The European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe, Philipe van Damme, said the visit was unfortunate but did not infringe any international statutes.
He said the visit will also not affect the thawing EU-Zimbabwe relations.
International relations expert Clifford Mashiri said Kasukuwere’s visit is suspicious.
Russia is keen on further expanding its footprint in Zimbabwe’s business circles and has cast its eyes on agriculture, promising to set up vast equipment assembly plants at a knock down cost.
There is a growing demand for agricultural produce in Russia, which is under sanctions from the European Union and has in turn imposed an embargo on basic foods, as well as meat and many other products, from Western countries.
The company will also ensure that an assembly plant is built in Zimbabwe to supply the African markets
Russia is seeking alternative markets and products subject to the one year embargo on beef, pork, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables, cheese, milk and other dairy products from the US, Canada, the European Union, Norway and Australia.
Setting up an agricultural base in Zimbabwe might help mitigate food shortages.
On Monday, a 12 member Russian delegation, comprising of technical expects, led by Igor Avakumo, pitched proposals to their Zimbabwean counterparts.
The proposals range from setting up an agricultural equipment manufacturing plant, citrus production, food processing, water purification, veterinary education, poultry and production of vegetable seeds.
The head of the Russian delegation, Avakumo said Zimbabwe may bridge the food shortage gap.
“We do not plant much of our citrus in Russia because we have a small vegetative season, but we need citrus more, so Zimbabwe may come and fill in the gap and be key in terms of supply,” he said.
“Russia is one of the major global suppliers of agricultural equipment, we manufacture tractors and combine harvesters, we are ready to sell tractors and these combine harvesters to Zimbabwe.
“The company will also ensure that an assembly plant is built in Zimbabwe to supply the African markets, the prices we offer are 15% less compared to competitors such as John Deere and Massey Ferguson tractors.”
In 2008 Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution by Western countries to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Presently, Russia’s major investment in Zimbabwe is a joint-venture diamond and gold mining company in eastern Zimbabwe, DTZ-OZGEO, and Moscow is also planning a joint platinum mining operation outside the capital Harare.
Joseph Made, the Zimbabwean Agriculture minister said the southern African country stood to benefit from the Russian proposal.
Zimbabwe’s beef industry has been struggling since the European Union (EU) banned meat imports from the African nation in 2001, following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease.
Zimbabwe’s abundance of industrially-significant minerals has long attracted China and Russia.
After South Africa, Zimbabwe is the world’s premier producer of platinum. It also mines ferrochrome and has large supplies of coal. Gold is another metal long panned and dug in the country. Since 2006, Zimbabwe has also become one of the world’s largest exporters of gem and industrial diamonds, many of which are destined for China.
Anjin, a well-placed Chinese company, mines diamonds from the Marange fields in eastern Zimbabwe in cooperation with highly-placed Zimbabweans close to Mugabe.
Because of those strong ties, Anjin’s diamonds often are exported directly to Dubai and Hong Kong without being officially accounted for in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. From 2006 through at least 2013, Zimbabwe’s treasury believed that it was receiving less than 10 percent of the royalties due it from diamonds.
After South Africa (and in-country elite investments channeled via the British Virgin Islands and Mauritius), China is the largest outside investor in Zimbabwe’s mining sector. Anjin invested nearly $500 million in 2011 to enlarge its diamond diggings and may have increased its investment totals along with added capacity in the ensuring years.
Other Chinese companies are eyeing possible investments in platinum and gold, particularly since the Zimbabwean government has been anxious to lessen the hold of South African and British investors in both sectors.
As another indication of China’s confidence in Zimbabwean prospects, the Powerway Renewable Energy Company of China is now prepared to invest at least $160 million in the construction of a 100 megawatt solar power plant about 150 km from Harare. The plant will be modeled on a smaller solar installation that Powerway has constructed in Japan, near Higahiloshima. Powerway also has facilities in twenty-one other countries. Powerway has agreed to partner with Mobility Holdings of Zimbabwe, which specializes in renewable energy projects.
When fully operational, the 100 megawatts of solar generated electricity will feed into a national grid, helping to relieve Zimbabwe’s chronic shortage of power. Even Harare and Bulawayo, the country’s two largest cities, are subject to frequent blackouts and enforced load-shedding events. Parts of Harare now receive electric power only a few hours of each day. Businesses and many households rely on private generators.
Installing the Powerway plant in Zimbabwe will take about a year, depending on its exact location. But it will have to occupy about 400 hectares, and its construction will employ 600 local and Chinese workers. Once this first plant is up and running, Powerway and Mobility intend to seek locations for additional solar arrays.
Currently, the only sizable – and still experimental – solar array in southern Africa is in northwestern South Africa. Both countries, and most of Africa, are blessed with abundant year-round sun. But, until now, Africa (and Zimbabwe) has largely relied on thermal power from inexpensive coal and from hydroelectricity generated from fast-flowing rivers like the mighty Zambezi on Zimbabwe’s northern border.
Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe under-invested in maintaining those facilities and its shortages reflect decades of decay and the nation’s current poverty. Providing transmission lines are strung, the Chinese solar array should help relieve at least some of those continuing shortfalls.
China has been close to Mugabe for many years, supplying equipment and uniforms to the security forces and constructing a military intelligence center in Harare. A Chinese firm is also building a highway to connect Maputo, neighboring Mozambique’s capital, to Harare, and engaging in other artery construction throughout the country. Its farmers grow maize and rice on leased land, too, for export home to China.