Mduduzi Mathuthu: Zimbabwe Faces Run-Off Over Kasukuwere Presidential Candidacy4 months ago
Mduduzi Mathuthu has suggested that if former Local Government Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, contests for the presidential post in August 2023, Zimbabwe may face a run-off as he is likely to divide votes in the ruling ZANU PF.
Kasukuwere, who is currently in self-exile, is a former political commissar in the ruling party and is said to still command a significant following in ZANU PF. He fled the country in 2017 after the ouster of former President Robert Mugabe and was allegedly one of the leaders of the vanquished generation40 faction (G40).
Kasukuwere has indicated that he will be making an official statement soon. He spoke to South African Journalist, Sophie Mokwana via his Twitter handle:
Sophie good morning. The call has been made and yes I will be making a formal statement on my candidature. Thank you for asking.
Responding to Kasukuwere’s announcement, Mduduzi Mathuthu, the founder of the news website ZimLive.com, stated that Zimbabwe may be heading towards a presidential run-off. He said:
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Saviour Kasukuwere running for president puts us in run-off territory
It has been reported that Saviour Kasukuwere is interested in returning to and rejoining the ruling ZANU PF party. His return to ZANU PF, if accepted, could have significant implications for the party’s internal dynamics and the upcoming presidential election in 2023. Even if he runs as an independent candidate, he is likely to get a fraction of voters from the ruling party.
What’s a Run-off Election?
A run-off election occurs when no candidate in an initial election receives a majority of the votes. In Zimbabwe, this can happen if no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote in the presidential election. Factors that can lead to a run-off election include opposition vote fragmentation and allegations of electoral fraud.
Zimbabwe held its most recent run-off election in 2008. The election was contested between then President Robert Mugabe of the ruling ZANU-PF party and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced that no candidate had secured the required 50 + 1 percent of the votes. However, Tsvangirai withdrew from the race shortly before the run-off, citing widespread violence and intimidation by Mugabe’s supporters. The run-off was widely criticized for being neither free nor fair. A power-sharing agreement was brokered between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, leading to the formation of a unity government (GNU) in 2009.
Currently, the major contenders in the upcoming 2023 Zimbabwean presidential election are the incumbent President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, who leads the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). In the previous 2018 election, Mnangagwa narrowly defeated Chamisa in a highly disputed poll. Chamisa challenged the results in court, alleging that ZEC had colluded with the ruling party, ZANU PF, to rig the election in Mnangagwa’s favour. The official results released by the ZEC indicated that Mnangagwa won with 50.8% of the vote, while Chamisa received 44.3% of the vote. This resulted in Mnangagwa winning the election by a margin of 6.5 percentage points, which translated to a difference of 35,339 votes.