HARARE – Former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere has spoken for the first time on his haste departure from his home country last November and life in self-imposed exile.
In an interview with the Sunday Times of South Africa, the ex-Zanu PF national political commissar, said he will return to Zimbabwe next week, nearly six months after he was forced to rush for the exits following former president Robert Mugabe’s ouster.
An influential figure in the Generation 40 (G40) faction which fought against then vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Team Lacoste camp in the battle to succeed Mugabe, Kasukuwere fled into exile soon after the army stepped in on November 14, 2017 to deal with “criminals” around the 94-year-old despot.
Kasukuwere stands accused of influencing Mugabe into expelling Mnangagwa from government and the ruling party, before the shrewd former vice president dramatically bounced back to lead the country and a divided Zanu PF after Mugabe was forced to resign.
Other G40 kingpins namely; Jonathan Moyo (the former Higher and Tertiary Education minister) and Patrick Zhuwao, who was in charge of the ministry Labour and Social Welfare, were also forced into exile although they now appear to have fallen out with Kasukuwere in the wake of reports linking him to the National Patriotic Front (NPF), currently led in the interim by retired brigadier-general Ambrose Mutinhiri.
As first reported by the Daily News last week, Kasukuwere confirmed to the Sunday Times that he was on his way back into the country, saying he would be home “as early as next week” as he has no criminal case to answer.
“Home is home and Zimbabwe remains my country. We were accused of corruption and that we are at the centre of destroying the economy. The reason I will go back home is that if I did commit a crime, then I must be brought before the courts and be charged…,” Kasukuwere said.
Affectionately known as Tyson for his demeanour which matches that of former heavy-weight American boxer, Michael Gerard Tyson, Kasukuwere boasted that he had the valour to come back and face those who “persecuted” him before he fled.
“It’s courage that should drive you to say: ‘let me face whatever has to come my way’. Why should you carry the stigma of being a criminal when you have not stolen anybody’s money? If you are charged with corruption and there is evidence of that corruption, so be it,” he vowed.
Responding to reports that his decision to return was informed by the fact that he had negotiated his safe return through his alleged links with Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Kasukuwere scoffed at the suggestion saying if that were the case, he would have long returned.
He said contrary to that belief, he was in fact bitter with the Mnangagwa government because of what they did to him when the military raided his home.
“It was a traumatic experience. What happened in November is something that one does not want to take lightly. It was an event that was very challenging, it was not expected and was an event that leaves a lot of bitterness”.
He suggested that the military intervention that forced Mugabe out was illogical as it was a political dispute which required a political solution.
“That was a party conflict and to have the army step in, that was not expected, you would have expected. You would have expected political players to deal with each other politically.
“If you feel aggrieved you go and form your own political party, just like Joice Mujuru who formed her own party”.
Mujuru was Mugabe’s former deputy before she was unceremoniously expelled on allegations of plotting to assassinate the former president.
Kasukuwere came out guns blazing also accusing all Zanu PF and government officials who worked with Mugabe since independence from Britain in 1980, including officials in the current Mnangagwa administration of being complicit in overseeing the collapse of the economy.
He called upon Zimbabweans “to have the integrity to accept collective responsibility”.
“To shift the blame of everything that happened in Zimbabwe to one man (Mugabe) is totally unfair. I think that the sooner we all accept our mistakes, all of us, the better for our country,’’ he said.
Kasukuwere is returning to Zimbabwe at a time when knives have been drawn out against Mutinhiri, who is accused of incompetence and dereliction of duty.
His impending arrival has already split the NPF, with two groups emerging — one in support of Mutinhiri’s leadership of the party and the other one which is putting faith in Kasukuwere to lead the party into the forthcoming elections.
Contacted for comment yesterday, the minister of Information and Publicity Simon Khaya Moyo refused to say whether government was keen on having Kasukuwere arrested or not, referring questions to the police.
Police spokesperson Charity Charamba could, however, neither deny nor confirm that the politician was on the police wanted list, saying she needed to check with the Criminal Investigation Department first.