Zimbabwe’s Saviour an enigma

[miningmx.com] — SAVIOUR Kasukuwere, the Zimbabwean government
minister who has become the bane of foreign-owned businesses, is an enigma.

Zimbabwe’s Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment has his
eyes set on Implats subsidiary Zimplats if the South African owners do not comply
with orders to hand over more stakes in the company to black people by the end of
this week.

The 41-year-old minister is different things to different people. His flashy lifestyle has
earned him the “Kenny Kunene of Zimbabwe’ moniker, while his political rhetoric rings
of Julius Malema at his fieriest.

To friends and family members, Kasukuwere, a former boxer, is affectionately known
as “Tyson’.

Colleagues in Zanu-PF see him as the proverbial “Young Turk’ whose political star is
on the rise.

He has come a long way from the days when he was part of President Robert
Mugabe’s security detail in the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation.

In fact, some in Zanu-PF’s ranks look favourably on Kasukuwere’s age, as he is the
youngest-serving Cabinet minister from the party, and covert talk in the faction-
riddled Zanu-PF has it that Kasukuwere could be a successor to the 88-year-old

After all, his political credentials are “tried and tested’ – a prerequisite for climbing
Zanu-PF’s ladder.

He has a track record of experience. As an MP for the Mount Darwin constituency since
2000, he enjoys the backing of the militant-styled youth empowerment outfits
Chipangano and Upfumi Kuvadiki (Wealth to the Young). He has also been in
Government circles since 2005, where he served as Deputy Minister of Youth
Development and Employment Creation until 2009.

A close ally of Kasukuwere, Zanu-PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo, said:
“Kasukuwere has been given a serious mandate under his portfolio in empowerment
and youth, but the jury is still out on him – although he has already shown some
skills people didn’t think he had.’

If Kasukuwere harbours any ambitions to land the country’s top job, he has kept
mum, instead focusing on turning up the heat on foreign-owned companies through
the controversial 51% indigenisation law.

As a result, foreign-owned companies Zimplats – Caledonia, Barclays, Stanbic and
Anglo Platinum – have had a run-in with Kasukuwere and have seen another side to
him: an aggressive, tough and sharp-tongued minister who is set to enforce the
indigenisation plans.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has labelled Kasukuwere a
“thug bent on looting’, re-enforcing a view held by US diplomats in WikiLeaks
disclosures, who also said he was a thug, but added he was “young, smooth and

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai last year complained to Mugabe that Kasukuwere was
the organiser of the youth-led violence that flared up in Harare – attesting to the
young minister’s ambitions to shape the country’s politics through violence.

Last week, South Africa’s Implats, which holds an 87% stake in its Zimbabwe
subsidiary, Zimplats, was on the receiving end of Kasukuwere’s indigenisation crusade
as it received a 14-day ultimatum to meet the country’s 51% indigenisation law.

In a rant similar to Mugabe’s belligerent speeches against the West, Kasukuwere shot
down any overtures of leniency being extended to Implats.

“The problem with [Implats CEO] David Brown is that he talks too much. We are sick
and tired of his delaying tactics. I don’t need to meet them over anything. Why are
they coming to see me? I am not a zoo,’ said Kasukuwere.

Observers say Kasukuwere’s influence has been catapulted by the indigenisation
campaign, to the point where he could now talk down large on multi-nationals
companies desperate to protect their investments in Zimbabwe.

Political analyst Charles Mangongera said: “For now Kasukuwere can bask in the glory.
Only time will tell whether Mugabe considers him a part of his inner circle, or [if] like
Julius Malema was to President Jacob Zuma, he will just be a useful cog that will be
cast away as soon as it has outlived its usefulness.’

Popular approaches of trying to unravel Kasukuwere have hinged on drawing
comparisons with Malema, the embattled ANC Youth League leader who visited
Zimbabwe in 2010 to see how “Comrade’ Kasukuwere was rolling out the country’s
indigenisation drive.

Like Malema, Kasukuwere has carved himself as a firebrand youth leader, to the point
of almost sidelining the party’s official 60-year-old youth leader, Absolom Sikhosana.

He is the champion of the poor – notwithstanding being a recipient of multiple farms
– and runs successful businesses in oil, agriculture and tourism.

His acerbic tongue has seen him publicly chide Gideon Gono, the country’s Reserve
Bank Governor and a staunch Mugabe ally, as differences emerged over how to
implement the 51% indigenisation law.

At times, however, Kasukuwere has seemed uncertain over how to implement the law,
and recently he reacted angrily to questions asked by lawyer Derek Matyszak of the
Research and Advocacy Unit on the glaring contradictions in the indigenisation law.

“I am not a lawyer, but the courts are there. If you are not happy with the policy go
to the courts.’

Critics say the indigenisation drive is meant to canvass support for Zanu-PF, which
after 32 years in power has nothing else to offer weary voters – and has now shifted
to a takeover of mining companies.

But in an interview with City Press this week, Kasukuwere rebuffed concerns
that the indigenisation law was an extension of Zanu-PF politicking.

“Companies have to respect our laws. It’s not about elections; it’s about fighting
poverty and improving the wellbeing of our people.

“I am continuing with our programme to empower the people of Zimbabwe. We are
our own liberators’.

– City Press