IN NOVERMBER 2017, Saviour Kasukuwere, then local government minister, escaped death by a whisker when bullets rained on his Harare home as the army effected the military coup which toppled former president Robert Mugabe.
He was seen as part of the G40 faction, which had coalesced around former first lady Grace Mugabe while pushing for Sydney Sekeramayi to succeed the aged Mugabe.
Kasukuwere, like other prominent G40 members, is living in exile, in South Africa, but the group continues to be accused of fuelling dissent and sabotaging both Zanu PF and the government.
The NewsHawks news editor Owen Gagare and investigative journalist Bridget Mananavire (NH) recently caught up with Kasukuwere (SK) in South Africa and they spoke about the former Zanu PF commisar’s life on foreign soil and the future.
NH: How has life been for you in South Africa? There was a drastic change from the kind of life that you were used to in Zimbabwe. How have you adapted?
SK: Well, I continue to live life as the average person does. How I lived in Zimbabwe is how I continue to live here; it is a normal life. Like every citizen in Zimbabwe or South Africa, that is how we live.
NH: Are you not worried about your properties back home? Do you still have them because there are reports that they were being repossessed by the government?
SK: They can’t repossess my properties. What for? If they do that I will report to the courts because those assets belong to me. I’m not a criminal, and those are my assets. They remain my assets and there is no provision in the law that will compel them to take my assets. On what basis?
NH: There are allegations that some of the properties were acquired using proceeds from criminal activities, including corruption.
SK: I’m a businessman. By the time I went into government I had already built my own base, property wise.
I had a substantial portfolio in business, remember I owned a bank, Genesis Bank, I owned UTC (United Touring Company). I own commercial transport and various other entities. Surely, all those years of service, all those years of hard work, where was I putting my profit?
Remember, I have been on the American sanctions list since 2001, meaning that there’s very little externalisation a person of my calibre would be able to do.
Most of the funds that I made were out of hard work within the country, I would invest back in my country. So, I trust that those proceeds of hard work remain mine, in my own country.
Barring the challenges that we were going through, the acrimony that we are facing, when we have worked over the years and you have built your own portfolio, you wish to maintain and protect it for your children.
NH: Are you planning on going back to Zimbabwe?
SK: Zim (Zimbabwe) is my home; Zim is my country. I will certainly be home when the situation permits, as you are aware that a lot stands in the way.
On the 15th of November 2017 midnight, or early morning, my house was attacked and that attack has not been investigated, and so you don’t know whether those who attacked you might come back and attack you again.
Until and unless there has been a closure of that matter (I will not return). So basically, it’s a question of my security, I will certainly be concerned being there, especially when that horrendous act has been dealt with.
NH: Would you be open to re-joining Zanu PF?
SK: I was not fired. The condition I’m making is that, what you did was wrong. ‘You say you fired so many people, no, you exerted pressure to remove people, and that is what we must turn back’.
They continue to say that, ‘no, we think you belong to G40, so, because of that, you can’t stand in this position, you must be eliminated’.
Now you see, it’s not stopping, it’s not ending.
So, we must slam brakes on this process by questioning: on what basis you are doing this. What is the reason?
How do you fire a card-carrying member of a party? He joins voluntarily, pays their subscription fees, but they’re denied to stand because someone says, ‘I think you’re G40’, so because of that, his or her rights are immediately affected because somebody just decided to paint them in a particular way.
Because I do not subscribe to your views as an individual, does that mean you negate or nullify my rights in terms of being a member of the party?
NH: But tell us about G40. Some things that have gone wrong in Zanu PF and government have been blamed on G40. Are you destabilising Zanu PF and government operations?
SK: No, You see, when they make their own mistakes, when they foul themselves in the 18 area, they will blame somebody else.
You can’t run a country on the basis of blame game. Each time you make a mistake, take responsibility and deal with the challenge than blame somebody. Now it has become ridiculous.
Somebody fails, even to succeed in their constituency, they blame G40. They fail in exams, it is G40, they fail to run an economy, it’s G40.
They fail to communicate, it’s G40. And you know the extent to which colleagues see shadows is amazing. I’ve never seen such an insecure administration.
Perhaps in their homes they blame G40 if they don’t perform well in bed, they will say ‘no, it’s G40, ‘Don’t blame me mama, it’s G40’. No. Please give us a break. What have we done? What is in existence are legitimate questions that are being raised by all and sundry, including members of Zanu PF.
The party has not held elections to choose provincial chairpersons in terms of the law.
You can’t start by building DCCs (district co-ordinating committees) before you’ve renewed the cells, which are done annually, branches are done every two years, districts every three years, provinces every four years. And you go to congress.
There is a political timetable that must guide the political party. But all that has been thrown to the dustbin.
Now, if everybody questions, the answer is ‘he has been sent’.
There is a huge generation, which is now no longer just taking things at face value.
There is a young generation, which will question decisions by leadership, which will ask for clarity, which will seek to understand, which will question, any answer you give, because they have questions for certain things.
NH: You were also blamed for the Bulawayo bombing in 2018 at White City Stadium and they said you were in Bulawayo at the time. What happened?
SK: Where can I get those arms of war? Bombs are not kept by Kasukuwere.
There is a national armoury, an investigation would have revealed that.
Why didn’t they call FBI (US Federal Bureau of Investigation), other international organisations to identify the nature of the bomb that was used, where it was manufactured?
When the kind of bomb they’re talking about was imported into the country, which batch was it? Where was it kept, who could have used it?
I thought (Vice-President) Kembo Mohadi the other day said that they found the person and that person will never be able to talk again, something of that nature.
I don’t know what he meant, maybe they eliminated the person, I guess they know much better. I have no need to spill blood.
I have no desire whatsoever to get involved in bombing Emmerson Mnangagwa or anybody. It’s tragic.
In fact, this is the first time in our country I’ve seen arms of war being used at a political gathering, where people come to support their political party, and they leave that place in body bags.
No, it’s not supposed to be that way.
NH: Were you ever questioned?
SK: No, no, no, they know the truth. They know it themselves. They can’t come and ask me that. They know each other, they must deal with each other. Ha, they must leave me alone.
NH: You have been meeting with the ANC leadership. What has been the nature of those meetings and what are you engaging them on?
SK: They have sought to understand our position, they sort of understand the politics and we did discuss with them.
I will not say much at this point, because I think it was a privileged discussion. I still want to respect that position and, at the right time, when they speak, then fine.
But I, as a person or as a group with other colleagues, when we approach the African National Congress (ANC), we do so respectfully, and we expect that whatever we discuss with them can only be talked about by the party itself.
NH: You worked with Mnangagwa in government, do you think he is capable of reforming? He promised a lot of reforms after the coup and ahead of the 2018 elections.
SK: You already have answered yourself. He promised, did he deliver? Have you seen it in any form? Reform is not what you talk about, reform is what you do. Rhetoric yes, people can talk, but reality check is something else. It’s easy to promise heaven on earth to a nation, but do you get to deliver exactly what you would have promised?
With all due respect, I think there has been a sort of failure to reform society, in other words what are we talking about?
We’re talking about key issues, production, development, the fight against sanctions.
We were told that the Second Republic was going to be different from the First Republic, that it was prepared to engage the world.
They said sanctions are not an issue, but we find out now that’s a big story. I for one would have looked at Zidera (Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act) and say okay, let’s deal with issues, let’s have a timetable, one item, for example, is the question about what happened to Itai Dzamara.
Set up a commission and get the commissioner of police to deal with it, and let’s have a report, whether we find it or we don’t find the result, let it be.