As winter slowly creeps in on the Southern African nation of Zimbabwe, it turns out temperatures are slowly surging towards a hotter real feel. Quite ironic, isn’t it? Only that the temperatures in question are not atmospheric but political. It’s officially election season in Zimbabwe.
In a development that’s likely to ramp up the heat and heighten the drama on the local political scene ahead of the harmonised elections set for August 23, one of former President Robert Mugabe’s allies and ex-ruling party stalwart, Saviour Kasukuwere, has expressed intentions to run for the prized seat of the presidency.
Speaking to a local publication recently, Kasukuwere spoke of having no fear of neither death nor jail- the common adversities that stalk most presidential contenders in budding democracies across Africa in their quest for ascendency to the highest office.
“I only fear for the future of the country if we do nothing”, he was quoted by ZimLive as saying.
Kasukuwere, nicknamed “Tyson” after the famous boxing legend Mike Tyson, rose to prominence during the GNU (unity government) era of 2010-13 where he was put in charge of the important Indigenisation and Youth Empowerment ministry by Mugabe.
Stocky in physique, Tyson was known for his bullish approach in discharging the business of his ministry and was the unapologetic enforcer of the controversial 51/49% indigenisation policy.
Post GNU, Kasukuwere was to be moved from one ministry to the other because of the many cabinet reshuffles that characterised Mugabe’s last term in power. A widely perceived Mugabe ally, and one of the honchos of the so called G40 faction spurring for power in the shadows of the ruling party’s succession conundrum, he was heading the local government ministry at the time of the November 2017 military action which saw the “soft” ouster of Mugabe from power.
Him and several others from the G40 camp fled into self-exile in the wake of the military assisted takeover and has been living there since 2018.
With the nomination court set to sit on the 21st of June 2023, it remains to be seen if Kasukuwere will successfully race against time to put together a political party and register at the court as required by law. It’s also unclear if the former lawmaker intends to run as an independent candidate, as widely suspected by many.
If Tyson decides to run for the highest office in the land as an independent, it would be a daring move that will evoke the memories of Simba Makoni’s 2008 unprecedented presidential challenge in the minds of many Zimbabweans.
With only a month away from the election date, Makoni, a former finance minister in Mugabe’s government, announced he was running for the presidency at a media conference in Harare. His decision to run against his former boss and political party was described by commentators as bold and a game changer to the usually two-man race of Mugabe and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
And indeed, a game changer it was. Although he only managed to walk away with an unsubstantial 8.3% of the vote, his participation ensured that neither of the two top contenders, Mugabe and Tsvangirai, got a majority win, thus necessitating a run-off.
Kasukuwere will join a long list of other presidential aspirants outside of the main contenders of incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa and the main opposition’s Nelson Chamisa. Some of the politicians who will be slugging it out for the presidential title include Douglas Mwonzora, Elisabeth Valerio, David Chapman and Linda Masarira.
It remains to be seen if Kasukuwere’s name on the ballot paper will just be another addition to split the vote and necessitate the unpopular eventuality of a run-off, or he is in to give his opponents a run for their money, punch for punch, pound for pound, just like his namesake Mike Tyson would do in the boxing ring.