While threats of death await him, Kasukuwere's return to Zimbabwe, will itself be both a shifting and switching of powers in ZANU PF – Our prediction.
— ZimEye (@ZimEye) June 5, 2023
By Prof Zhang Tar | ZimEye | As Zimbabwe gears up for the highly anticipated 2023 election, the emergence of Saviour Kasukuwere on the political scene has sparked speculations about his impact on the electoral landscape. Some suggest that he may play a role similar to that of Simba Makoni in the 2008 election, effectively dividing votes between the incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the opposition leader Nelson Chamisa. This article delves into the dynamics surrounding Kasukuwere’s entry into Zimbabwean politics and examines the potential implications of his candidacy.
The Zezuru Factor and Leadership Mandate
Saviour Kasukuwere, a close associate of the late Robert Mugabe, represents a faction of Zezurus who believe they were unjustly deprived of the leadership mandate following the 2017 coup that brought Mnangagwa to power. The Zezurus, the nation’s largest tribe, perceive Mnangagwa’s administration as favouring the Karanga tribe, thereby marginalizing their interests. With their desire to reclaim what they see as their rightful place, the Zezurus, including the Manicas, have rallied together against what they perceive as an attack on their group.
Tribal Dynamics in Zimbabwean Politics
Tribal affiliations have historically played a significant role in Zimbabwean politics, and the upcoming election is expected to be no exception. The Karangas, like the Ndebeles, are not numerically dominant, whereas the Zezurus hold a considerable numerical advantage. Given that both Mnangagwa and Chamisa hail from the Karanga tribe, the tribal factor becomes even more pronounced. Consequently, the support of the Zezurus could be a game-changer for any political candidate. The Ndaus, associated with Ndabaningi Sithole, are the only tribe to have set themselves apart since the Ndebele era.
Kasukuwere’s Involvement and ZANU PF’s Motivation
Contrary to the notion that Kasukuwere is positioning himself as another Simba Makoni, it is worth noting that he was sought after by ZANU PF to lead the party. A letter was written to ZANU PF members to this effect, indicating that Kasukuwere’s candidacy is not solely his own decision. This demonstrates a significant shift within ZANU PF, with the party recognizing the importance of securing the support of the Zezurus, a tribe that has historically played a significant role in the party’s support base.
Mnangagwa’s Popularity and Political Legacy
Emmerson Mnangagwa has faced widespread criticism and is widely disliked among the people of Zimbabwe. Unlike his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa lacks the charismatic appeal and popularity that could have softened the impact of his policies. His failure to establish a contemporary political accord akin to previous attempts in Zimbabwe’s history has further exacerbated internal divisions within ZANU PF. Mnangagwa’s approach has left the nation grappling with political, economic, and social challenges.
The Role of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
An important aspect to consider is whether the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) will allow Kasukuwere’s nomination papers. The decision by the ZEC will play a crucial role in shaping the upcoming election. If Kasukuwere is allowed to run, it could further intensify the political landscape, potentially leading to a more fragmented vote distribution.
As Zimbabwe approaches the 2023 election, the entry of Saviour Kasukuwere has introduced new dynamics into the political arena. The grievances of the Zezurus, who feel marginalized under Mnangagwa’s administration, coupled with tribal considerations, make this election a crucial one.