Former Zimbabwean cabinet minister Saviour Kasukuwere has declared his intention to participate in the upcoming presidential election on August 23. This move will challenge both the incumbent president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.
Kasukuwere has been living in self-imposed exile in South Africa since 2017, following the military coup that led to the removal of former president Robert Mugabe from power. During his time in exile, he has been strategically planning his political comeback, teasing his supporters on social media. In a recent statement, he confirmed that he will formally announce his candidacy.
Supporters of Kasukuwere on social media are rallying behind him under the banner of a political group called New Alliance Zimbabwe. They see him as a representative of the voiceless masses, the marginalized citizens, and those who were forcibly displaced from their homeland. According to New Alliance Zimbabwe, Kasukuwere is taking a stand against internal oppression within the country.
As a loyalist of Mugabe, Kasukuwere was associated with the Generation 40 (G40) faction of the ruling party, which advocated for Grace Mugabe, Robert Mugabe’s wife, to succeed him. In November 2017, Kasukuwere was accused of corruption by army officials during a press conference in Harare. Following the accusations, he fled to South Africa along with other former ministers connected to the G40 faction.
In 2018, Kasukuwere briefly returned to Zimbabwe and was arrested on corruption charges. However, the Harare magistrate’s court dismissed the charges before he left the country again.
In October 2020, the Zimbabwean government issued a warrant for Kasukuwere’s arrest and sought his extradition from South Africa to face criminal charges.
Kasukuwere’s decision to run for the presidency has caused a stir in Zimbabwe. Political analysts believe that his candidacy will split the ruling party vote. Ibbo Mandaza, a political analyst, suggests that Kasukuwere’s presence will not only divide the Zanu-PF vote but also pose a threat to Mnangagwa’s chances. The country already grapples with issues of ethnic politics, corruption allegations, and a dire economic situation, which further complicates the political landscape.
Rejoice Ngwenya, another political analyst, agrees that Kasukuwere poses a challenge to Mnangagwa. While acknowledging that Kasukuwere’s association with the Mugabe regime may tarnish his reputation among neutral observers, Ngwenya believes that his candidacy will divide the Zanu-PF vote, potentially benefiting Nelson Chamisa.