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It’s now Mnangagwa vs Chamisa after Zim court tosses Mugabe ally Kasukuwere’s bid to stay in presidential race

It’s now Mnangagwa vs Chamisa after Zim court tosses Mugabe ally Kasukuwere’s bid to stay in presidential race
Left: Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sunday Times) | Citizens' Coalition for Change leader Nelson Chamisa addresses an election campaign in Gweru, Zimbabwe, on 16 July 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Aaron Ufumeli)

It is a two-horse race between Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his nemesis, Nelson Chamisa of the main opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change, in the elections in 26 days, after the supreme court upheld a high court decision barring Saviour Kasukuwere from contesting for the presidency.

A bench of three judges of Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday upheld a decision by the high court barring former cabinet minister Saviour Kasukuwere from standing as a presidential candidate in the 23 August general elections. 

The judges did not give reasons for dismissing the appeal by Kasukuwere who, through his legal team, had argued that the high court had misdirected itself when it found that his nomination as a presidential candidate was not above board. 

Saviour Kasukuwere has lost. his appeal against a ruling that he could not contest the Zimbabwe presidential elections. Photo Flickr

In barring Kasukuwere from contesting, high court judge David Mangota ruled that the former cabinet minister in Robert Mugabe’s regime had stayed outside the borders of Zimbabwe for longer than 18 months and therefore was not ordinarily resident in the country, which meant that, by law, he could not stand as a candidate.

Following the supreme court’s ruling, Kasukuwere said in a Twitter post that he was disappointed but would not take the decision lying down.

One of his attorneys, Method Ndlovu, said the country was now in a constitutional crisis. 

“As a nation we are on an eve of constitutional and electoral crises because we have the apex court which is the constitutional court and we have instructions immediately from our client to take up the next available step in order to make sure that he remains on the ballot papers. So, I wouldn’t say we are out of time in order to protect the best interests of our client,” said Ndlovu. “Surely this decision is going to be challenged, challenged in no time.”

A few days ago, Kasukuwere, who is in exile in South Africa, took the diplomatic route and wrote to the chairperson of the Southern African Development Community and President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Felix Tshisekedi, protesting against his ban and accusing President Emmerson Mnangagwa of bullying his political opponents in the run-up to the elections.

Kasukuwere, who was a kingpin of a Zanu-PF faction that unsuccessfully campaigned for former first lady Grace Mugabe to succeed her late husband, left Zimbabwe at the height of the military coup that caused Mugabe to resign in November 2017 after ruling the southern African country with an iron fist for 37 years. 

Who’s left?

Now, the political fight for the country’s top job is between Mnangagwa and his main rival, Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens’ Coalition for Change.

The pair will fight it out with other presidential hopefuls Douglas Mwonzora of the MDCT, Elisabeth Valerio of the United Zimbabwe Alliance, Joseph Makamba Busha of the FreeZim Congress party, Trust Chikohora of the ZCPD, Blessing Kasiyamhuru of ZIPP, Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitutional Assembly, Wilbert Mubaiwa of the NPC, Gwinyai Henry Muzorewa of the UANC and Wilson Harry Peter of the DOP. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Zimbabwe heads towards another disputed election as growing threat of conflict looms

Valerio became the only female presidential candidate after she successfully challenged her exclusion from the lists of presidential hopefuls released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission at the close of the nomination court that sat on 21 June. The commission had argued that Valerio had failed to raise the required sum of money in time. 

Another politician who intended to run for the presidency, Linda Masarira, had her appeal thrown out by the high court on Thursday for lack of merit. DM

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