The comeback of Saviour Kasukuwere, a former Zanu PF political commissar and ex-cabinet minister who recently declared his presidential ambition, is capable of dividing Zanu PF in a way that can influence the election to the advantage of the opposition, according to some analysts.
Although his political strategy is yet to be tested on the ground, pundits predict that his return can divide the ruling party, where it is believed he still commands support among disgruntled party members.
On the other hand, some believe Kasukuwere has no capacity to unseat Zanu PF but is living in denial and basking in past political glory.
The 52-year-old was a prominent member of late former President Robert Mugabe’s inner circle in government before they were deposed in the 2017 military coup, forcing him to flee to South Africa.
Kasukuwere temporarily returned to Zimbabwe in 2018, but was arrested on border-jumping and corruption accusations, which were later dropped.
On Monday, Kasukuwere said he would return to Zimbabwe before the August 23 elections to run for the presidency but has yet to formally announce his election strategy..
His announcement resulted in predictions that his candidature will divide the ruling party’s presidential vote and increase the chances of an opposition win.
“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,” Zimbabwean researcher and political analyst Ibbo Mandaza wrote on Twitter.
In an interview with CITE, political analyst, Iphithule Maphosa doubted if Kasukuwere will go through with his presidential bid, but if he did, it would be a game changer of note.
“Kasukuwere indicated the intention of concentrating more in rural constituencies, which, if successful, will eat into Zanu PF’s strongholds and ultimately dilute its power base. His candidature would also be impactful on the presidential ballot, as it has the capacity to do away with a seeming two-horse race for the position-should the project succeed,” he said.
Maphosa hastened to add that voters had to be alive to several dynamics presenting themselves within Zanu PF and government, where there were a number of factions and parallel state institutions whose agendas are not known, as well as alignment and end-game intentions.
“Most times we have had such hype creations as distractions from the real issues affecting the ordinary masses, which Zanu PF is so good at. Kasukuwere might as well be one of them and if that is the case, the question is to whose benefit?” he questioned.
Since Kasukuwere has no official political party affiliation, some questioned whether he would run as an independent candidate, raising more questions about his commitment to politics as they claim his goal may not be to win the elections but rather “something else.”
“Playing into factionalism and this thing of Zanu changing faces without necessarily bringing a new economic, politic, economic, social and developmental vision for Zimbabwe will not work,” said renowned academic and leader of Freedom Alliance party, Dr Samukele Hadebe, who noted it would be unfortunate if Kasukuwere was coming in to participate into Zanu PF internal factions.
“People of Zimbabwe now need a vision that will rescue them from the failure, economic and political disaster that was brought by Zanu. We welcome the addition of Kasukuwere, as the more the merrier, however if he’s still playing the politics of the factions within Zanu, as he was part of the G40 that will be unfortunate,” he said.
Dr Hadebe said if Kasukuwere was coming with a new vision, it would be tested on the ground.
“We are all going to be on the ground, we give people different alternative views,” he said.
Another political analyst, Bernard Magugu, said Kasukuwere had announced his presidential bid late, which would cost him.
“He was a bit late because if there is that gap you lose grip and influence within your supporters. I feel his candidature could have divided votes for Zanu PF, if it was announced timely, unless he was working clandestinely within Zanu and can still be having that influence to divide the votes,” he said.
“But it is a bit late unless if he had come out clearly such that people were going to have contact with him then the G40 was going to support him.”
On the other hand, Magugu noted that since some G40 members were still aggrieved up to now by the coup, Kasukuwere had some leverage but doubted that he would be a suitable president.
“Kasukuwere cannot be a good presidential material because he was there with Mugabe. Nothing good was coming from that party and leadership where he was also involved. There is nothing good to measure him by, to say, ‘at least Kasukuwere even if he’s inside a dirty cup, he’s a clean teaspoon.’ Being a teaspoon as he was, he was still dirty inside that dirty cup,” he said.
Journalism and Political Studies Researcher, Alexander Rusero also wrote on Twitter that Kasukuwere “has no capacity but was very delusional and living in denial of a political glory bygone era!”
Rusero added: It’s like saying ‘vote for someone who left Zanu PF by expulsion to remove Zanu PF.’ It will not work!”