THE entry of former Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere into the political fray on the eve of Zimbabwe’s general elections will divide President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s vote as the floundering economy poses a huge threat to the Zanu PF leader’s power-retention plan.
The country holds presidential, parliamentary and local council elections on 23 August 2023.
The main political parties in the presidential race are Zanu PF and the opposition CCC.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa won 50.8% of the 2018 vote.
On the other hand, Nelson Chamisa, who was running on an MDC-Alliance ticket, won 44.3%.
Zanu PF has since launched its election campaign in Chipinge at Mutema Secondary School in Musikavanhu constituency. Experts say the stakes are high and, as the election date nears, the big risk is that politics will be the centre of attention and some damage will be felt in the economic environment.
Kasukuwere, a former minister in Robert Mugabe’s cabinet, will run as an independent candidate, in a move expected to divide votes in Zanu PF strongholds. Kasukuwere, currently exiled in South Africa, has promised to return home and campaign despite warnings of imminent arrest.
The authorities say he faces two arrest warrants issued back in 2019. The first one was issued after he failed to appear in court on four counts of criminal abuse of office and the second one after he failed to resubmit his passport to the clerk of court. He has dismissed the warrants as mere threats to scupper his political campaign. His legal team dismisses the claims.
According to a research note done by Batai Matsika, a researcher at Harare-based advisory firm Mark and Associates Consulting Group, Zimbabwe needs more reforms to spur economic growth.
The country faces several constraints such as currency issues and liquidity constraints, a massive debt overhang, limited government revenues and deficits; limited foreign direct investment and lines of credit; and corruption, as well as low rankings in terms of the ease of doing business.
“We contend that the coming in of Kasukuwere on the presidential elections stage will likely divide the Zanu PF/Mnangagwa vote, which will effectively be an advantage for CCC/Chamisa,”reads the Mark & Associates research note titled Zimbabwe Macro-Thematic Report which was released this week.
“The 2023 Presidential race will be tight. The legitimate opposition in Zimbabwe (CCC) is as determined as ever to challenge the regime, but the Zanu PF-led government will not surrender power easily.
“However, one must understand the demographics and voter trends. Zimbabwe is a youthful country with approximately 70% of its 15.1 million people under the age of 35. Generally, the higher numbers of voters are the older generation who are more aligned with the ruling party (Zanu PF). While CCC is aligned to the younger generation, a significant number of youths are not registered to vote. Young people are also stubbornly aloof when it comes to elections.”
An Afrobarometer survey released on 15 June 2022 showed that 33% of the voters will vote for the opposition CCC while 30% of the voters will vote for the incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mark & Associates says Mnangagwa faces a tough battle in turning around the economic fortunes of a nation once famed as the Jewel of Africa. The researchers say while the Mnangagwa administration had set out to re-open Zimbabwe for global business by making strides to strengthen bilateral relations with countries such as China, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and Brazil, the country has made little progress to mend relations with the West.
“Mark & Associates Consulting Group believes that Zimbabwe needs to do all the things every emerging nation has to do to attract foreign and regional partners to not just grow but survive in the new global economy,” the report reads.
“International investors today now possess a plethora of investment options in the form of asset classes and projects they can invest in. The Zimbabwean government should know that Zambia, Malawi and even South Africa are competing for the same share of the investor’s pocket. In other words, Zimbabwe’s economic demise has been — in a way — an advantage for other southern African states.
“While Mnangagwa echoed the need to curb corruption, investors want to see more of his whip and crackdown on chronic corruption that has dogged economic activity for decades. More arrests, demotions of corrupt leaders, seizure of stolen or siphoned assets and a review of the land redistribution process would have done the trick!”