HARARE – Former Zanu PF national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, received a five-star treatment when he surfaced at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts yesterday to face charges of illegally skipping the country’s boarder in November last year.
When the 47-year-old politician arrived at court, he was taken through routine vetting procedures but was not booked into holding cells, pending his appearance before Harare magistrate, Josephine Sande.
The ex-minister of Local Government was then charged with contravening section 24 (1) of the Immigrations Act, which prohibits people from departing from Zimbabwe at any place other than a designated port of exit.
He was granted $300 bail and ordered to continue residing at his current address, while reporting at Borrowdale Police Station once a week.
His passport is being held by the State as an exhibit.
While it is the common practice for accused persons to be taken into holding cells and be cleared after payment of bail, Kasukuwere exited the courtroom through the main exit, mingling with his sympathisers who were in the gallery to give him moral support.
He then went down the stairs to pay his bail.
After payment of bail, he left the court building without any restrictions, accompanied by his team of legal representatives.
The complainant is the State, represented by Godfrey Kondo — a principal Immigration officer.
According to State papers, between November 3, 2017 and May 22, this year, Kasukuwere exited Zimbabwe, unlawfully — through an unknown point that is not an official port of exit.
The court heard that on May 22, Kasukuwere returned through the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport and, in the process, an analysis of his travel documents showed that he had last entered the country on November 3, 2017.
It is being alleged that there was no corresponding exit endorsement between November 3 and May 22, reflecting that he had exited the country illegally.
Kasukuwere, along with other Zanu PF functionaries aligned to the Generation 40 (G40) faction, among them Jonathan Moyo (former Higher and Tertiary Education minister) and Patrick Zhuwao (ex-minister of Labour and Social Welfare) skipped the country in a huff after the military stepped in to flush out alleged “criminals” who had surrounded former president Robert Mugabe.
Moyo and Zhuwao are still in self-imposed exile, presumably in Kenya, while Kasukuwere, who had sought refuge in South Africa, decided to return home last month, saying he feared nothing as he had not committed any crime.
His appearance at the court yesterday could help unravel the mystery regarding how he left the country, along with Moyo and Zhuwao, who happens to be Mugabe’s nephew.
It had been widely speculated that Mugabe had negotiated their safe exit through the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport as part of his exit deal, negotiated with the military, which had seized power on November 14 before masterminding Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ascendance to the presidency.
That the State is convinced that “Tyson”, as Kasukuwere is affectionately known, used an undesignated point of exit to make good his escape suggests the trio might have engaged in some Hollywood type of break free to evade the military, which was hunting allies of Mugabe under an exercise code-named Operation Restore Legacy.
In December last year, Kasukuwere said when the army opened fire at his house, he was inside. Along with Moyo, they then ran away on foot into the bushes where they found an escape route and fled.
He said they even passed through parks and continued on and on.
Moyo tweeted in November that SAS snipers fired for 15 minutes at Kasukuwere’s house where he and his colleague, their wives and seven children were.
He later revealed in an interview on BBC Hardtalk in January that he was warned not to sleep at his house on the night of November 14, so when SAS soldiers attacked his residence he and his family were not there.
Pressed to say they left Zimbabwe, Moyo said: “I left Zimbabwe with the help of people who to me are angels, because they saved lives, and I am not liberty to say who helped me, how they helped me and how I left Zimbabwe except to say I left Zimbabwe when … Mugabe was the president of the country and I left with the assistance of these people legally, I left the country legally. I managed to escape the net of the military people and to be where I am legally.”
In his first interview, Mugabe revealed how Moyo and Kasukuwere sent an SOS to his wife, Grace, claiming that they were under siege.
Mugabe said Grace then organised some of her security details and told them to go and save Kasukuwere and Moyo.
“And she put together the cars and the persons that she had. I wasn’t here and so they were brought to our house, … Moyo and Kasukuwere and their families,” he said.
Mugabe claimed that more than 50 soldiers besieged Kasukuwere’s house, where Moyo and his family had also sought refuge after the soldiers rolled out the tanks, a development that eventually led to Mugabe’s ouster.
He, however, said the bullets did not go through the “shatter glass” at Kasukuwere’s house.
Kasukuwere then called Grace, telling her that they were under siege and that was when the former first lady sent her security detail to rescue them.
When the soldiers saw the two vehicles approaching, they left the place and that was how they were rescued.
The two families were then taken to Mugabe’s Blue Roof mansion, with the former president saying his ministers’ children were literally naked when they were brought to his house.
Mugabe added that Grace risked her security officials to rescue Kasukuwere and Moyo’s families on “humanitarian grounds” because their children were defenceless.
When they arrived, Grace told the two ministers to flee immediately and she facilitated their escape.
Mugabe said the two ministers then managed to escape, but he did not go into detail about how they left and where they went to.