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Zimbabwe Court Disqualifies Ex-Ruling Party Official from August Polls

A boy leans near to campaign posters with images of candidates in Harare, Zimbabwe, on July 16, 2023.
A boy leans near to campaign posters with images of candidates in Harare, Zimbabwe, on July 16, 2023.

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe's Supreme Court confirmed Friday that a former minister and a ruling party member is disqualified from running as a presidential candidate in next month’s elections.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal from would-be presidential candidate Savior Kasukuwere, a one-time ally of former president Robert Mugabe.

Kasukuwere had appealed a High Court ruling that he could not run as an independent presidential candidate in the August 23 elections.

Edley Mubaiwa, a lawyer for the ruling Zanu-PF party's Lovedale Mangwana, asked the courts to remove Kasukuwere from the upcoming ballot.

“We have always maintained that the decision of the Nomination Court was inconsistent with the Constitution,” Mubaiwa said. “It was also inconsistent with the Electoral Act. And we have always asserted the position that the appeal was without merit and was bound to fail. The outcome today has simply confirmed the position that we have always taken. We feel quite vindicated by that.”

Mangwana argued that since Kasukuwere resided outside of Zimbabwe for more than 18 months, he was no longer a registered voter — making him ineligible to run for office.

On Friday, Method Ndlovu, one of Kasukuwere’s lawyers, said it was not the end of the fight.

“We were not given any reasons why the appeal was dismissed, but we were told the reasons are going to follow,” he said. “I am going to say as a nation we are on the eve of constitutional and electoral crisis. Because we have the apex court, which is the constitutional court, and we have received instructions from our client to take up the next available step in order to make sure that he remains on the ballot paper. So I wouldn’t say we are out of time in order to protect the best interests of our client. We didn’t sleep. We have papers in our bags and they will be filed.”

FILE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe
FILE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe

Alexander Rusero, a politics professor at Africa University in Zimbabwe, said the Supreme Court’s decision means it is unlikely President Emmerson Mnangagwa will have any serious competition in the polls.

“The throwing out of the Savior Kasukuwere case by the Supreme Court, it speaks a lot in as much as independence of the courts are concerned,” Rusero said. “And in as much as the sincerity of entrenching democracy by the Zanu-PF-led government is concerned. Because at the end of the day we are now witnessing political disputes now being settled in courts. Issues where people are supposed to vote through the ballot ... are now being settled by the bench. So that can't be democracy, and it is unfortunate.”

Meanwhile, the main opposition group, Citizens Coalition for Change, has threatened on social media to pull out of the polls if 12 of its parliamentary candidates are not reinstated to the ballot by the Supreme Court.

On Thursday, a High Court in Bulawayo barred them from the August election — ruling that they filed their nomination paperwork after the deadline.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission supported the CCC candidates, saying they submitted their papers on time.

Opposition officials could not be reached for comment Friday.