Political upset brewing in Zimbabwe: Zanu PF in panic mode as Kasukuwere prepares to return home

Ex police boss Augustine Chihuri, Ex army boss General (Rtd) Constantino Chiwenga and ex Zanu PF Commissar Saviour Tyson Kasukuwere

Exiled former Zanu PF heavyweight Saviour Kasukuwere says he is preparing to return home, brushing aside suggestions that his move to challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the August 23 elections will suffer a stillbirth because of perceived legal hurdles.

Kasukuwere announced his intention to run for the presidency last week, triggering panic in Zanu PF amid fears that the ruling party’s former commissar’s candidature would widen fissures caused by chaotic primary elections.

The former Local Government minister was forced into exile after the 2017 coup that toppled the late Robert Mugabe from power.

After he announced his presidential bid, Zanu PF loyalists said he would be disqualified because he was living outside the country as the constitution says presidential candidates must be “ordinarily living” in Zimbabwe.

Kasukuwere last week also moved to clear another potential legal hurdle for his return from South Africa. He challenged his January 17, 2019 warrant of arrest for alleged corruption.

In early 2020, the National Prosecuting Authority tried to extradite him, but failed after Interpol said the issue was political.

Kasukuwere’s spokesperson Chris Kabato told The Standard yesterday that his return was imminent.

The nomination court will sit on June 21 to receive names for presidential, parliamentary and local government candidates.

“There is no going back on this one. He is coming to Zimbabwe and he will contest in this year’s polls,” Kabato said.

“Details will be released in due course, but all I can confirm is that there is no going back, no matter what comes.”

Kasukuwere’s ally and former Zanu PF youth leader said the Mugabe loyalist would cause an upset in the elections.

“The timing of Kasukuwere’s bid is strategic,” Tsenengamu told The Standard.

“He is capitalising on the growing disillusionment with the ruling party’s governance and economic policies.

“Zanu PF needs to address these concerns head-on if they wish to retain their political dominance and counter the appeal of alternative candidates.”

Academic Ibbo Mandza said Kasukuwere’s presidential bid was not good news for Mnangagwa.

He cited the extent of the factionalism and ethnic politics in Zanu PF.

“This is much more serious now than it has ever been in the history of Zanu PF except the 1975 events in Zambia,” he said.

“Not to mention the spectre of the disgruntled 149 MPs who failed in primaries.

“Secondly, the person of Emmerson Mnangagwa who is a very pale shadow of his mentor Mugabe, has never won an election since the 1999 congress, is more securocratic than political in outlook, and has been tarnished irreparably by the allegations of sleaze.”

Zanu PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa said the ruling party was not worried about Kasukuwere’s presidential bid

“Zanu PF is geared for resounding victory in this year’s elections,” Mutsvangwa said..

“The ruling party is unperturbed by the G40 cabal, which has been struggling to find a political home since operation restore legacy.”

Kasukuwere was closely associated with a faction known as the Generation 40 (G40).

G40 was a group within Zanu PF that sought to promote younger leaders and had close ties with the former first lady Grace Mugabe.

Kasukuwere, along with other prominent figures such as Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Zhuwao, played a key role in the G40 faction’s activities.

The faction’s influence grew as they strategically placed allies in key positions within the party and government structures including pushing for Mnangagwa’s expulsion as deputy president.

However, the faction’s power was shortlived.

In November 2017, the military staged a coup, leading to Mugabe’s resignation and the removal of several G40 members from power.

Wits University-based political analyst Romeo Chasara said the ruling party’s response to Kasukuwere’s challenge would undoubtedly re-shape the face of Zanu PF.

“Kasukuwere’s presidential bid poses a significant threat to Zanu PF’s dominance,” Chasara said.

“His appeal to a broader base and promise of change resonates with a population hungry for reforms.

“The ruling party must carefully assess their response and address the underlying concerns that led to this challenge.”

Political analyst Alexander Rusero, however, said Kasukuwere did not pose any threat to Mnangagwa’s re-election bid.

“Peter Ndlovu (Former national soccer team captain) would do better than Kasukuwere,” Rusero said.

“He has no capacity, but is very delusional and living in denial of a political glory from a bygone era.”

In 2018, Mnangagwa narrowly beat then 40-year-old opposition leader Nelson Chamisa in disputed presidential elections.

Opinion polls done late last year and early this year showed that the Citizens Coalition for Change leader will beat the 80-year-old incumbent in free and fair elections.

— The Standard

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