Former president Robert Mugabe’s loyalists are coalescing around former Zanu-PF commissar Saviour Kasukuwere amid revelations that he is being positioned to challenge President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the 2023 presidential elections.
Kasukuwere is one of the top Zanu-PF officials that were forced into exile after Mugabe was removed by his lieutenants in a coup in 2017.
It has since emerged that the former Local Government minister is now preparing to return home to resuscitate his political career after he was cleared by the courts over corruption allegations.
Kasukuwere was a key figure in the Zanu-PF faction that was known as G40, which was defeated by Mnangagwa’s Lacoste group that eventually got the backing of the military in the battle to control the ruling party.
A splinter party formed by Mugabe’s loyalists, the National Patriotic Front (NPF), did not take off as anticipated and only got one parliamentary seat in elections held a year after the coup.
It is believed that that the NPF has been courting Kasukuwere who is likely to emerge as its new leader in the coming months.
The name of the former minister who is also known as Tyson in political circles has also been mentioned among those who can spring a surprise challenge against Mnangagwa for the control of Zanu-PF where factionalism is said to be resurfacing.
Those that are said to be backing a possible return to Zanu-PF for Kasukuwere fear that he would not be effective as an opposition leader as the military, which has close ties to the ruling party remained the power broker.
Kasukuwere yesterday could neither confirm nor deny that he was preparing to return to Zimbabwean politics.
“Am I not Zimbabwean? I have a democratic right to participate in politics if people want me to represent them,” he said.
Sources, however, revealed that the former Zanu-PF heavyweight has been on a regional offensive where he was briefing regional leaders about the unfolding political events in the country, which they said showed he was back into active politics.
He has reportedly met officials from South Africa’s ruling ANC where he is said to have told them that Zimbabwe’s problems emanated from the military’s involvement in politics.
Kasukuwere was last month invited by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and former president Thabo Mbeki for memorial services held in honour of Mugabe.
“It is not coincidental that Kasukuwere was invited by both President Mbeki and President Ramaphosa to their memorial lectures in honour of President Mugabe,” an NPF insider said.
The same source said Kasukuwere had visited Botswana, Mozambique and Tanzania to apprise regional leaders about political developments in Zimbabwe.
NPF spokesperson Jealousy Mawarire said the party has been consulting its structures since January this year and that “indeed provincial chairpersons met early this year to deliberate on party restructuring and Kasukuwere’s name was put forward to lead the party.”
“Consultations are still ongoing and structures are free to come up with names of people that they think could take the party forward,” he added.
“We are a democratic party which values grassroots involvement in leadership choice and we are pleased that in the past months, there has been genuine excitement over proposals for leadership realignment in the party”.
“The level of enthusiasm and the robust discussions have reinvigorated everyone and we are happy that our structures are alive to the need to put our best cadres at the front as we battle to create a peaceful, democratic and economically conducive environment for both businesses, social and political coexistence in the country. We are headed for very exciting and fulfilling political times in the country, that’s all I can say for now.”
According to minutes of one of the NPF meetings, the plan to court Kasukuwere started as far back as April.
This was after the party’s structures on April 6 nominated him to succeed Ambrose Mutinhiri who has since returned to Zanu-PF.
“The Bulawayo province nominated Cde Kasukuwere to be president and Cde Sandy Moyo to be national chairperson and all the provinces seconded the motion and it was agreed and endorsed by the full meeting,” READS
“The meeting went on asking me to communicate their proposal to Mai Sandy Moyo and Cde Kasukuwere and they only gave me two days to come back with the response.
“The meeting also chose one chairman from Mashonaland and one from Matabeleland regions to accompany Mai Sandy Moyo to go to South Africa to meet Kasukuwere so that they can convey their message direct to him.”
– the standard