Dark horse’s disqualification new twist to Zimbabwe elections


Saviour Kasukuwere throws hat into Zimbabwe's presidential race

from MARCUS MUSHONGA  / DANIEL JONES, in Harare, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Bureau
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THE fact that in the previous Zimbabwe election, some individuals that were resident outside the country were allowed to contest the presidential poll, but Saviour Kasukuwere is barred for similar reasons, smacks of a selective application of the rules.

This comes as the atmosphere gets toxic ahead of next month’s elections. During those last elections, Mnangagwa was on an offensive charm and eager to convince the world of a new dawn for a country whose election cycle is ever a cause for international concern.

The latest developments gives credence to the sentiment that the emergence of Kasukuwere, fired from the ruling party at the height of infighting in 2017, has the incumbent, President Emmerson Mnangagwa (80), and the governing Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (PF) jittery ahead of the August 23 poll.

On Wednesday, the High Court nullified Kasukuwere’s candidacy on the grounds that he had been living outside the country for 18 months.

He has been in neighbouring South Africa from 2017, allegedly fleeing persecution after the military forced then president, Robert Mugabe, out of power, apparently a move also targeting those the uniformed forces branded “criminals” surrounding the veteran leader, now late.

The High Court therefore ruled that the Nomination Court sitting in the capital Harare had violated sections of the Constitution by accepting Kasukuwere’s nomination paper and candidature. A legal aide of Kasukuwere’s filed the nomination paper as he remains in South Africa.

The court thus ordered the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to remove his name from the ballot

Kasukuwere (53) has since filed an appeal at the Supreme Court, through his lawyer, Jacqueline Sande.

“We therefore continue to campaign. Forward ever backwards never,” he vowed.

Arnold Tsunga, the legal expert, explained the implication of the appeal on Kasukuwere’s candidature.

“In normal cases the filing of an appeal automatically suspends the order appealed against. If this is the case then it may mean that until the case is finalised Saviour Kasukuwere’s name is on the ballot,” Tsunga said.

It remains to be seen what the ruling at the apex court would be as the ruling party is accused of “capturing” the judiciary in Zimbabwe.

The ZANU-PF Patriots laughed off the appeal.

“Kasukuwere is wasting his time and resources,” the ruling party-aligned organisation stated.

This is the latest twist as Zimbabwe seemingly lurches into yet another disputed poll, with the 2018 election that Mnangagwa won still fresh in memory.

Coincidentally, in that election, Mnangagwa faced 22 other candidates, including three that had been living outside the country for years, some for decades.

These comprised another exiled former Mugabe cabinet minister, Nkosana Moyo (who led the Alliance for People’s Agenda (APA), and finished fifth), South African-based Joseph Makamba Busha (FreeZim Congress, fourth) and the United States-based Noah Manyika (Build Zimbabwe Alliance, joint 16th).

“Busha has been living in South Africa for 34 years. He is not even a tax payer in Zimbabwe. Manyika was a US resident for decades but came and contested in the 2018 elections. Emmerson is scared of Kasukuwere,” said an analyst.

Busha is again a contestant this year.

The tussle with the courts is the latest hurdle for Kasukuwere, who already is racing against time. Almost a month before the poll, he has not been to Zimbabwe where campaigns are ongoing.

He faces arrest if he sets foot in his country.

Police recently revealed there were two warrants of arrest, which had not been cancelled “yet.”

Kasukuwere said he was acquitted of the criminal charges but police insist he defaulted on a court order and was given his passport but failed to submit it back within the stipulated period.

A former minister in the government of national unity, opposition veteran and lawyer, stated, “Having read the Kasukuwere judgment and the Notice of Appeal against it filed by his lawyers, I am left wondering what further judgments may emanate from our Courts affecting the entire electoral environment. Credible elections need lawfulness and fairness to prevail.”

However, not everyone feels sympathy for Kasukuwere, a divisive figure during his time in ZANU-PF and government, where he held portfolios including Environment, Water and Climate as well as Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment.

At the time of the coup, Kasukuwere was minister of Local Government, Public Works, National Housing and Rural Development.

“This judgement serves him right. He didn’t want to see reforms in Zimbabwe. Why must he cry out the loudest? This (repression) is what he has always represented throughout his political career,” critic Bheki Ndlovu, said.

Before the emergence of Kasukuwere, it had been projected to be another two horse-race between Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa (45), leader of the main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).

Police have banned some of the CCC’s rallies.

Jitters within Mnangagwa’s camp are premised on whether Kasukuwere could split the ZANU-PF vote.

That is because of his links to the so-called Generation 40 (G40) faction of the party, comprising younger members. Mnangagwa allegedly heads the “Lacoste” (based on his nickname as The Crocodile) faction that consists of the service chiefs and veteran activists of the liberation struggle.

The G40 has ever been against the ascension of Mnangagwa to the presidency and at some stage, prefered then First Lady, Grace Mugabe, to him in the race to succeed the now-deceased president Mugabe.

Divisions along those lines are recurrent in ZANU-PF.

Kasukuwere, nicknamed Tyson, this could be a dark horse if he wins his legal battles and contests the poll.

– CAJ News





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