Former Minister Calls for Serious Discussion after Disputed Re-election of President Mnangagwa

August 28, 2023
Kasukuwere | Report Focus News
Saviour Kasukuwere

In the aftermath of a contentious re-election victory for President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Zimbabwe, former minister Saviour Kasukuwere has emphasized a pivotal opportunity for leaders within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to engage in substantive deliberations concerning the nation’s crisis.

In an unprecedented move that has sparked significant controversy, SADC election observers have unequivocally labeled the election as lacking credibility. This proclamation has ignited a heated response from the Zimbabwean government, which has accused Nevers Mumba, the former vice president of Zambia and the head of the observer mission, of demonstrating bias.

Kasukuwere, a former member of the Zanu PF politburo, has been vocal about the turmoil plaguing Zimbabwe. He was barred from running as an independent presidential candidate due to his prolonged 18-month absence from the country while in self-imposed exile in South Africa. Kasukuwere asserts that the recent election, which he characterizes as a “sham,” along with the preliminary report from the SADC observer mission, creates a vital opening for the regional body to step in and address the ongoing crisis. He traces the origins of this crisis back to the 2017 military coup that ousted the nation’s longstanding leader, Robert Mugabe.

Kasukuwere firmly stated, “The report from SADC carries significant implications for confronting the deeply ingrained oppression within Zimbabwe’s political system. It is imperative that we liberate our people.” In response to the announcement that President Mnangagwa secured reelection with 52.6 percent of the vote, Kasukuwere emphasized, “This moment provides SADC, an entity directly impacted by the Zimbabwean crisis, a critical juncture to initiate a profoundly impactful discourse. We cannot disregard the conclusions reached by SADC, the African Union, and other international bodies that have scrutinized this election and concluded that it falls short of both regional and global democratic standards.”

With conviction, he denounced the recent election as devoid of credibility and stressed the necessity for a fresh approach, collaborative efforts, and a commitment to a future election that commands universal acceptance. Kasukuwere lamented, “Over the next five years, we are poised to be governed by an illegitimate regime born out of a flawed electoral process.”

Describing the observer mission report as a “new dawn” and a “decisive turning point,” Kasukuwere appeared to advocate for a SADC-mediated process leading to new elections.

The forthcoming presentation of the observer mission report to the SADC troika, responsible for ensuring peace, security, and stability in the region, is poised to be a critical moment. This troika is currently led by Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema. Kasukuwere urged, “Upon receiving the report, the troika chairperson should promptly elevate it to a comprehensive SADC summit. This signifies a pivotal moment, a fresh start. SADC has, for the first time, genuinely engaged with the situation.”

Kasukuwere interpreted the report as an assertion by the region that the recent elections are null and void. He called on all parties involved to reflect on the question, “How can we restore faith within the region in our institutions and processes, thereby extricating our country from its current predicament?”

Kasukuwere criticized President Mnangagwa for his perceived arrogance and his belief in acting with impunity, suggesting that he capitalizes on the poverty of the populace. He remarked, “As poverty deepens, people become more susceptible to manipulation. The vote was swayed by economic pressures and fear,” referencing the difficulties faced during the election, including delays in delivering ballots and voter intimidation by a Zanu PF-affiliated group known as the Forever Association of Zimbabwe (FAZ).

Kasukuwere contended that the election took place under a “militarized atmosphere,” where judges hesitated to make decisions due to uncertain futures. He claimed, “We bore witness to unabashed aggression, a relentless pursuit of power, and looting by Mnangagwa.” The former youth minister expressed concern that the disputed election would adversely affect efforts to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe.

In addition to his engagement with SADC, Kasukuwere advised Nelson Chamisa, leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change, who reportedly received 44 percent of the vote according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), to “challenge the election in court.” However, he admitted, “I have limited hope in the outcome.”