Saviour Kasukuwere Biography: Early Life | CIO Agent | Political Career | Exile | Presidential Ambitions
Saviour Kasukuwere is a Zimbabwean politician, businessman and farmer who rose to prominence as a key ally of former President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace.
He served in various ministerial positions under Mugabe’s administration, most notably as Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and National Housing and as Zanu-PF’s national political commissar. He was also one of the leaders of the G40 faction that opposed the rise of Emmerson Mnangagwa within Zanu-PF.
He was expelled from the party and parliament following the 2017 military coup that ousted Mugabe and forced him into exile.
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Early Life and Education
Kasukuwere was born on 23 September 1970 in Mount Darwin, Mashonaland Central Province. He attended Chiunye Primary School and Bradley Institute for his secondary education. He reportedly holds various qualifications in the art of intelligence.
Kasukuwere joined politics when he started supporting Zanu-PF in the late 1980s. He was a junior member of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) then and operated in Mutare under the nickname Tyson. He left the CIO in 1994 to pursue his own business ventures.
In 1999, he was elected Zanu-PF Youth Chairman of Mashonaland Central. In March 2000, he was elected Member of Parliament for Mount Darwin South, a seat he retained until 2017. He also became a member of the Pan-African Parliament in 2004.
He rose through the ranks of Zanu-PF and held various ministerial portfolios under Mugabe’s government.
He was Deputy Minister of Youth Development and Employment Creation from 2005 to 2009, Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment from 2009 to 2013, Minister of Environment, Water and Climate from 2013 to 2015, and Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing from 2015 to 2017. In October 2017, his ministry was expanded to include Rural Development.
As Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment, he spearheaded the controversial policy of black economic empowerment that sought to transfer majority ownership of foreign-owned companies to indigenous Zimbabweans. He also clashed with some white farmers over land reform issues.
As Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, he oversaw the implementation of various urban development projects such as housing schemes, road construction and water supply. He also supervised the affairs of local authorities and intervened in cases of corruption or maladministration.
As Zanu-PF’s national political commissar from 2014 to 2017, he was responsible for mobilising support for the party and ensuring discipline among its members. He also played a key role in organising Mugabe’s rallies and campaigns.
He was also one of the prominent members of the G40 faction that supported Grace Mugabe’s bid to succeed her husband as president. He was seen as a rival of Mnangagwa, who led the Lacoste faction that had the backing of the military.
Expulsion and Exile
Following the military intervention that forced Mugabe to resign in November 2017, Kasukuwere was expelled from Zanu-PF by the party’s central committee along with other G40 members such as Grace Mugabe, Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Zhuwao, Ignatius Chombo and Walter Mzembi. He was also expelled from parliament as the Mount Darwin South legislator.
He fled the country and sought refuge in South Africa, where he has been living in exile since then. He has been accused by the Zimbabwean government of various crimes such as corruption, abuse of office and inciting violence. The government has also sought his extradition from South Africa.
He has maintained his loyalty to Mugabe and has criticised Mnangagwa’s government for human rights violations and economic mismanagement. He has also expressed his intention to return to Zimbabwe and participate in politics again.
Kasukuwere has been facing several court cases in Zimbabwe related to his political activities and alleged crimes. Some of the cases are:
- In 2018, he was charged with border jumping after he allegedly used an undesignated port of exit to flee the country during the 2017 coup. He was granted US$300 bail and ordered to surrender his passport and report to the police twice a week. He later skipped bail and went back to exile.
- In 2019, he was sued by the government for failing to pay US$3 million for a 53-hectare farm he acquired under the land reform programme. The government claimed that he had breached the terms and conditions of the offer letter and sought to repossess the farm.
- In 2020, he was accused of corruption, abuse of office and money laundering by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC). He allegedly allocated residential stands worth US$2 billion to former First Lady Grace Mugabe’s sister and other cronies when he was the local government minister. He also allegedly received kickbacks from various companies that were awarded tenders by his ministry.
- In 2021, he was issued with a warrant of arrest by the Harare Magistrates’ Court after he failed to appear for trial on the border jumping case. His lawyer said he could not travel to Zimbabwe due to Covid-19 restrictions and asked for a postponement. The court dismissed his application and ordered his arrest.
- In 2022, he was sued by a South African company for failing to pay US$100 000 for a luxury car he bought in 2017. The company claimed that he had defaulted on his instalments and demanded full payment plus interest and costs.
Kasukuwere is married to Barbara Kasukuwere, and they have three children: Takudzwa (son), Natasha (daughter) and Christian (son). He is also related to Dickson Mafios (half-brother), who is also a former Zanu-PF politician.
He is a businessman and farmer who owns various properties and businesses in Zimbabwe and South Africa. He is also involved in philanthropic activities such as supporting orphans and widows.
Saviour Kasukuwere announced his intention to contest the 2023 presidential election as an independent candidate.
Kasukuwere made the announcement through his lawyer and chief election adviser, Jacqueline Sande, who filed his nomination papers at the High Court on 21 June 2023. He said he was ready to take on President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa in the race for the highest office in the land.
Kasukuwere said he was motivated by the desire to restore democracy, human rights and economic prosperity in Zimbabwe, which he said had deteriorated under Mnangagwa’s rule. He accused Mnangagwa of being inept, corrupt and oppressive and of failing to deliver on his promises of reform and development.
He also appealed to Zanu-PF members to support his candidature, saying he was still loyal to the party’s founding principles and values. He said he was not afraid of facing prosecution or persecution for his political stance and that he would return to Zimbabwe soon to launch his campaign.