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Zimbabwe's Saviour: Presidential Candidate Tormented by his 'Own Party'

Harare, Zimbabwe – For the exiled aspiring presidential candidate Saviour Kasukuwere , being a ruling ZANU PF functionary for many years had...

Harare, Zimbabwe – For the exiled aspiring presidential candidate Saviour Kasukuwere, being a ruling ZANU PF functionary for many years had unlimited benefits. 

Under the previous regime of Robert Mugabe, most courts judgments were seen to be tilted in its favour, known to be brutal and a law unto themselves, the former member did as he wished, and easily got away with it.

Inside the ruling ZANU PF party’s echelons of power, first as a Member of Parliament in 2000, to deputy minister, minister and later on, the party’s national political commissar, a post he held until 2017, when he was dismissed from the party, he was a man with a big, unquenched ambition. 

As the party’s national political commissar, he said he was the ruling party’s “nerve centre, you could be understood or be misunderstood.”

In the post, he was directly responsible to “coordinate programs of the party at provincial, district and branch Levels; to maintain records relating to organs and membership of the Party; and to formulate strategies for the implementation of the party's political programme.”

Interestingly, he assumed the dicey position, after three of the previous commissars before him, Movern Mahachi, Border Gezi and Elliot Manyika had all died in questionable circumstances. 

Zimbabwe's Saviour: Presidential Candidate Haunted by his 'Own Party'

Continuing with their legacies, he discharged the duty with zeal and most often using force, coercion and sometimes violence along the way to annihilate and humiliate his opponents.


In his constituency of Mt Darwin, 155 km outside Harare, towards Mozambique, a known ruling ZANU PF stronghold since the time of independence, and historically used as a passage into Mozambique for the liberation struggle, and a dominant cotton farming area, he could operate at will, and absolutely no one would ask him, or question his modus operandi, which ensured Mugabe retained power, mainly during the contentious elections beginning with the entrance of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 2000.

The use of lawfare, presumably the capture of the judiciary to turn a blind eye on what was befalling the opposition, in favour of the ruling party became prevalent in the tun of the millennium, when the opposition MDC scooped all urban parliamentary seats. By then Kasukuwere was a minister in Mugabe’s cabinet.

Back in 2015, when the opposition was gaining ground, he told the late MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai that, “(Morgan) Tsvangirai is going around saying he wants reforms. What reforms? I want to tell him that he will never ever see the reforms that he is dreaming about. He can go to hell and go hang.”

At that time, Robert Mugabe was in total control, winning elections since 1980 after elections, sometimes even using rigging ways, when he became unpopular, but Kasukuwere never imagined that one day, he would be in exile and later become an opposition member himself.

“Having been in politics for quite some time, I never thought political differences, will be resolved by the use of our security forces,” he told Trevor Ncube, on how he escaped into neighbouring Mozambique during the November 2017 coup. 

“I had faith, I had that faith in me, that whatever happened, the army will not get involved, for some reason, I thought, maybe I was being naïve, that there was no basis for them to become adjudicators in a political process, this was an internal issue within ZANU PF.”

Kasukuwere’s storied violent methods earned him many monikers, such as Tyson, for his ability to take opponents head on, like the legendary Mike Tyson, who won many heavyweight boxing championships during his heydays. To his political victims Kasukuwere was and is still seen as a monster, a man who always found his ways, using his party connections to bulldoze his way to get his way.

At one time, he was accused of using paraquat, a cotton herbicide to torment and vanquish his opponents, mainly within the opposition. The use of Paraquat, which later became one of his nicknames, used to rub into his opponents’ wounds, so that they suffer more.

November 2017 coup

After decades in office, there were increased demands for Mugabe to resign, and name a successor, however, the octogenarian refused to name one, hence the jostling for his position began. “Others are saying ‘President, choose a successor before you retire’. Is that not imposition? Me imposing someone on the party? No, I don’t want that,” Mugabe said.

This power struggle created fault lines within the party, creating two distinct factions, one which Kasukuwere belonged. Then in 2017, Mugabe was ousted by his army, Kasukuwere and his friends relocated into South Africa for his own safety. 

As the November 2017 coup unfolded, Kasukuwere and his G40 comrades gathered at his mammoth home in Harare, contemplating their next move. In the eyes of the coup plotters, him and his fellow comrades had become the main target, and part of the soc-called criminals surrounding Robert Mugabe, and they had to be eliminated.

Early in the morning, gun shots were heard at his house, and this meant they had to leave the country by any means necessary in order to stay alive. During the November 2017 coup, Kasukuwere was targeted at his house by the army, who accused them as the ‘criminals surrounding Robert Mugabe’.

“At exactly 2:15 am, we heard a loud bang by the steel gate, and I remember Professor Jonathan Moyo, remarking that, “they are here, they are here.” There was burst of gunfire, several hundreds of shots were fired, it was the house now, we were basically under attack, massive attack. The children came out of their bedrooms, there was confusion.” After all, he is human after all, and after the attack, the ministers decided to leave the country.

In 2028, he briefly returned home, hoping that the system had changed for the better, ready to accommodate him, sadly, nothing much had changed, except for the characters in the game, otherwise, the things were still the same. In the end, he could only fly back into exile, where he made know his intentions to go for the presidential ticket. Personally, what continues to irked people is his respect for Mugabe, a man many believed made the lives of Zimbabweans tough and unbearable.

The Damascene moment

While in South Africa, away from the comfort he was used to, Kasukuwere began to reveal signs of regret, and claimed that he was a new person. All of sudden, from his violent past, he started to talk about reconciliation, the need to incorporate the opposition, and calling started the main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa his brother, a shift from his violent, militant past.

It took Kasukuwere to be dislodged from power to really appreciate his mistakes. Asked by Ncube, on what he could have done differently after the November 2017 coup, he said, “And I think again, this streak (of violence), which has been in the party for quite some time. We sit here, I sit here with other colleagues, as victims of that violent streak within the party.

“This is an area that requires depth, to say, we should concentrate on the development of our people, on delivering, on upliftment of the majority, as opposed to this unnecessary carnage, where we allow ourselves to become instruments of death, instruments of liquidation of opponents.”

This July, there were reports that Kasukuwere would land in the country to begin his campaign journey. On social media, there was excitement over his intended arrival, however, days later, he revealed that they were “just flying a kite,” a form of decoy to teat the waters, on how the state would react to his arrival. 

In the end, passenger 34, his seat number never came, after the security apparatus were ready to pounce on him on arrival at the Harare airport, citing him of non-existing court cases, which later proved to be not there at all.

This year, just before the forthcoming elections in August 23, he announced his intention to run for presidency, however, the system he helped to establish is barring him from contesting. Just like his time, Kasukuwere is being barred through the courts and intimidation, meaning he cannot come back to campaign. 

Even though some may be willing to give Kasukuwere a second chance, and a benefit of doubt, those poor victims he tormented in his time think otherwise.

Presidential candidate

On July 28, the Supreme Court dealt Kasukuwere a heavy blow, the even he Tyson could not duck, probably sending hm to the canvas for good. In the end, after the Supreme Court judgment, he could only tweet, “Disappointed, and we are now considering our next steps and will keep the nation informed. God bless.”

Soon after, he tweeted again, “Desperation on steroids! Why is the regime sending ZACC to my family home. What valuation are you carrying out? @edmnangagwa Is it criminal to contest you?” ZACC stands for the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption Commission, sometimes accused of fighting state opponents.

Douglas Mwonzora, another presidential candidate wrote, “Preventing electoral candidates from participating in an election is a clear danger to democracy. It violates the cardinal principle of the sovereignty of the people to choose their leaders. It is wrong. Zimbabwe is going through a very sad period.”

Information secretary, Nick Mangawana shared Mnangagwa’s thoughts. “Those who claim that I am using the courts to thwart my opponents should go and collect back their school fees from wherever they went to school, because I have never taken anyone to court and I am nowhere in any court process. If they make such allegations, it shows they don’t have much education.”

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