Zimbabwean authorities’ attempts to employ Interpol to secure the return to Zimbabwe of former top officials of ousted president Robert Mugabe have hit a brick wall.
In one such case, the international police organisation refused to cooperate in the apprehension and repatriation of the former local government minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, who is believed to be in South Africa.
The snub is now set to be used as a template for all other similar requests involving Mugabe’s former top aides now scattered around the world.
In a letter seen by ZimLive to authorities in Zimbabwe, Interpol said all requests for a placement of an individual on a red notice are forwarded to its Notices and Diffusions Task Force to ensure that they comply with the organisation’s constitution and rules, in particular Article 3 according to which “it is strictly forbidden for the organisation to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military or racial character.”
Interpol said after a request to issue a red notice for Kasukuwere in May, it considered “the status of the person, the nature of the offence, the general context of the case and the implications for the neutrality of the organisation.”
It concluded: “In view of the above and taking into account the neutrality of the organisation, it is considered that the request may engage the organisation in matters, which would bring into question its neutrality according to article 3 of Interpol’s constitution.
“As a result, the General Secretariat is not in a position to publish the red notice against Mr Kasukuwere and the information concerning the individual will be deleted from Interpol’s databases.”
Interpol said its conclusions should not be read as a challenge of the validity of any criminal proceedings launched against Kasukuwere, nor an interference with the independence of Zimbabwean judicial authorities.
“It does not prevent your country from using other means or channels to disseminate international alerts or requests for cooperation concerning this case. Rather, the sole consequence of our decision is that your request for international police cooperation concerning this individual may not be transmitted via Interpol’s channels,” it added.
After Mugabe was toppled in a military coup in 2017, the new regime of President Emmerson Mnangagwa has hounded and hunted down his loyalists, including his former deputy Phelekezela Mphoko and former ministers Ignatius Chombo, Saviour Kasukuwere, Walter Mzembi, Jonathan Moyo, Godfrey Gandawa, Walter Chidhakwa, Mandi Chimene and Patrick Zhuwao. They are all presumed members of the so-called G40 faction in Zanu-PF – Mugabe loyalists who were opposed to Mnangagwa’s presidential ambitions.
Zhuwao, Moyo, Gandawa, Chimene, Mzembi and Kasukuwere have all fled for the safety of exile, joining other senior officials from Mugabe’s regime including the former police chief Augustine Chihuri and former intelligence chief Happyton Bonyongwe.
Zimbabwean prosecutors recently engaged Interpol to locate and apprehend Mzembi, the former minister of tourism who faces corruption charges, but met similar grief as in the Kasukuwere case.
Interpol officials remain unconvinced the officials face charges of a strictly criminal nature, and fear being dragged into political show trials by a regime out to crush all opposition.