According to political analysts, the entry of former cabinet minister and Zanu PF commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, into the upcoming presidential election on August 23 is expected to divide President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s support base and potentially benefit opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens’ Coalition for Change.

Kasukuwere, currently in self-exile in South Africa, recently announced his intention to return to Zimbabwe and run for president, creating an unexpected twist in the political landscape leading up to the general elections. However, analysts believe that while Kasukuwere may generate media hype, he lacks a strong connection with grassroots supporters and is unlikely to win the presidential election.

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Professor Eldred Masunungure suggested that Kasukuwere’s entry into the race could impact Zanu PF’s electoral base by splitting its support, which could work in favor of Chamisa and his CCC party. Masunungure noted that Kasukuwere’s influence is primarily limited to Twitter platforms, representing only a small segment of the electorate.

Stephen Chan, a professor of world politics at the University of London, expressed a similar sentiment, stating that Kasukuwere’s candidacy is not expected to have a significant impact on the final vote. However, it could potentially shed light on internal conflicts within Zanu PF.

Political analyst Vivid Gwede predicted that Kasukuwere’s presidential run could eat into Mnangagwa’s votes, particularly among traditional Zanu PF supporters. Gwede emphasized that Kasukuwere’s history is deeply tied to Zanu PF, and his presence in the race could further weaken the party’s position, potentially leading to defeat in the election. Gwede also highlighted that new voters who registered after Kasukuwere’s late entry could be influenced by his campaign.

Saviour Kasukuwere rose to prominence as the political commissar and a key member of Robert Mugabe’s last cabinet before Mugabe’s ousting in 2017. Kasukuwere was briefly arrested on corruption charges in 2018 but left the country again after the charges were dismissed. He is a former Environment, Water, and Climate minister. Kasukuwere was part of an alliance with Mnangagwa and Grace Mugabe to remove former Vice-President Joice Mujuru from power, but the alliance disintegrated during the factional conflicts within Zanu PF.

Kasukuwere and other former ministers fled the country during the 2017 coup that saw Mnangagwa take power with the assistance of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces led by General Constantino Chiwenga. Kasukuwere currently faces arrest over corruption charges, and the government has sought his extradition from South Africa. It remains unclear if Kasukuwere will field parliamentary, council, and senatorial candidates under his political party, New Alliance Zimbabwe, for the August 23 elections.

newshawks, zwnews