Mugabe loyalist set to challenge Mnangagwa in Zimbabwe presidential vote

07 June 2023 - 14:45
By Sharon Mazingaizo
Saviour Kasukuwere will challenge for Zimbabwe's presidency in 2023. File photo.
Image: Believe Nyakudjara Saviour Kasukuwere will challenge for Zimbabwe's presidency in 2023. File photo.

Former Zimbabwean cabinet minister Saviour Kasukuwere intends to run in the presidential election set for August 23, challenging incumbent president Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.

Kasukuwere, 52, has been in self-imposed exile in South Africa since 2017 when former president Robert Mugabe was toppled in a military coup.

He has been plotting his political comeback with teasers on social media and this week shared: “The call has been made and yes, I will be making a formal statement on my candidature.”

Kasukuwere’s the proverbial cat among the pigeons: he will divide the Zanu-PF presidential vote, and perhaps even fatally dent Mnangagwa’s chances.
Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza

His supporters on social media are backing Kasukuwere under a political outfit known as New Alliance Zimbabwe.

“By standing in the August 2023 elections, ‘President Kasukuwere’ is representing the voiceless masses, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised citizens, as well patriots who were violently driven from the shores of the motherland. He’s standing against black-on-black oppression,” said New Alliance Zimbabwe.

The former minister is a loyalist of Mugabe and was linked to the so-called Generation 40 (G40) faction of the ruling party, which wanted Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband.

Kasukuwere was part of the alleged “criminals” around Mugabe who were mentioned by army commanders during a press conference in Harare on November 14 2017. He fled to South Africa with several former ministers who were linked to G40.

Kasukuwere briefly returned to Zimbabwe in 2018 whereupon he was arrested on corruption charges. These were later dismissed by the Harare magistrate’s court, but not before he left the country again.

In October 2020, the Zimbabwe government sought Kasukuwere’s extradition from South Africa to face criminal charges after issuing a warrant for his arrest.

Kasukuwere’s presidential bid has caused a stir in Zimbabwe.

Political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said Kasukuwere’s bid will split the ruling party vote.

“Kasukuwere’s the proverbial cat among the pigeons: he will divide the Zanu-PF presidential vote, and perhaps even fatally dent Mnangagwa’s chances — not to mention the toxic ethnic politics in the country, the allegations of corruption and looting, and the dire economic situation,” said Mandaza.

Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya also believes Kasukuwere poses a threat to Mnangagwa.

“Saviour Kasukuwere has as much right to contest as any other Zimbabwean. However, his historical connections with the Mugabe regime taints his brand, especially with those who are neutral. But he poses a danger to Emmerson Mnangagwa. He will definitely divide the Zanu-PF vote and that is good news for Nelson Chamisa,” said Ngwenya.

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