COUNTDOWN TO 23 AUGUST
Mugabe ally Saviour Kasukuwere plans appeal after being barred from contesting Zim elections
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa is being accused of capturing the courts ahead of general elections scheduled for next month after former cabinet minister and Robert Mugabe ally Saviour Kasukuwere was barred from contesting.
A Zimbabwean court on Wednesday barred exiled former cabinet minister Saviour Kasukuwere – a key ally of the late former president Robert Mugabe – from contesting for the presidency in general elections set for 23 August, saying that his nomination was illegal.
Kasukuwere, who was hounded out of the country during the military-assisted transition that forced Mugabe to step down after running the country with an iron fist for 37 years, stunned his former Zanu-PF allies when he successfully filed his nomination papers on 21 June to run for the country’s top job.
Harare High Court judge David Mangota ruled that Kasukuwere’s nomination to stand as a presidential candidate was “unlawful” after agreeing with Zanu-PF activist, Lovedale Mangwana – who filed the application – that the former ruling party political commissar should not have been successfully nominated because he had ceased to be a legally registered voter after having stayed outside the borders of Zimbabwe for more than 18 months.
According to Section 91 of the Zimbabwean constitution, for someone to be eligible to qualify for election as president or deputy president, he or she must be a Zimbabwean citizen by birth or descent, be at least 40 years old, and be a registered voter and ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe.
Mangota also ordered the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission not to include Kasukuwere’s name on the ballot paper.
‘Down but not out’
Following his successful nomination as a presidential candidate, Kasukuwere – affectionately known as “Passenger Number 34” after he was booked as the 34th passenger on a Zimbabwe-bound flight to launch his presidential campaign to test the waters, and ended up not travelling – accused President Mnangagwa of using dirty tactics “to avoid his impending defeat” in the upcoming elections.
Kasukuwere said he was “down but not out”.
“Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF are afraid that I will defeat them because they have failed to run the affairs of the country. We are going to file an appeal against the decision of the court; our lawyers are on the case right now,” said Kasukuwere over the phone from his base in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Courts captured by Zanu-PF
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said the court’s decision to bar Kasukuwere from contesting for the presidency was tantamount to blocking Zimbabweans from freely electing the country’s leadership.
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“The judgment on Kasukuwere does not serve Zimbabwe’s democratic interests and aspirations well in the sense that all citizens of Zimbabwe have a right to aspire for any political office within the constitution of Zimbabwe,” said Mukundu.
“It appears that the ruling by the High Court is very much political… It’s intended to exclude those that Zanu-PF is afraid of from the electoral line-up.
“It’s a ruling that is bound to cause more political questions and also undermines the credibility of the electoral process in the sense that it’s clear that this challenge was orchestrated by Zanu-PF members who are not seeking transparency, but rather exclusion of others in the presidential race.”
Kasukuwere was a kingpin of the “Generation 40” faction that unsuccessfully campaigned for former first lady Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband. Robert Mugabe died in Singapore after being toppled by the military that propelled Mnangagwa, who led the “Lacoste” faction, to the country’s top office.
When Kasukuwere announced his presidential candidature for this year’s plebiscite, Nelson Chamisa, the leader of Zimbabwe’s main opposition, the Citizens Coalition for Change party, accused Kasukuwere of being an extension of Zanu-PF.
However, Kasukuwere said he was offering himself for election as president because Mnangagwa had failed to deliver on his electoral promises. He pledged to form a government of national unity if he was elected to occupy the country’s highest office on 23 August.
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Another political analyst, Dr Urayayi Zembe, said the blocking of Kasukuwere from contesting the elections was clear testimony that there was still bad blood between Zanu-PF’s Generation 40 and the Lacoste faction.
“The ruling is an oppressive one, just like denying citizens in the diaspora a right to vote. It shows that Zimbabwe does not have a democratic constitution but a partisan document which is being used to capture state institutions by the incumbent president to fight political opponents.
“Zanu-PF’s succession battles that led to Mugabe’s departure are not yet settled… that is G40 versus Lacoste,” said Zembe.
However, Zanu-PF information director, Tafadzwa Mugwadi, refuted allegations that Mnangagwa and his party had captured the judiciary.
“President Mnangagwa is a contestant in this election; Zanu-PF as a party is also an equal contestant. For any political party or person to say that we have captured the courts is further from the truth, because the judiciary is an independent arm of government,” said Mugwadi. DM