SELF-EXILED former Cabinet minister Saviour Kasukuwere’s bid for the country’s presidency appears ruined after the High Court in Harare nullified his nomination.
Undaunted by the ruling, Kasukuwere’s chief election agent, lawyer Jacqueline Sande yesterday, however, immediately filed an appeal at the Supreme Court.
Posting last night on Twitter, Kasukuwere’s head of communications and stakeholder management Ali Naka said: “Breaking!!!! Notice of appeal against the High Court ruling against the leading presidential candidate in Zimbabwe has been successfully filed with the Supreme Court. This suspends the High Court Ruling. Saviour Kasukuwere is still on the ballot! Hande tione (It’s game on)!!”
Earlier in the day, Sande had said: “The absence of president Kasukuwere on the ballot will compromise the credibility of the upcoming elections.”
In a ruling read by his colleague Never Katiyo, High Court judge Justice David Mangota said Kasukuwere failed to prove why he should remain a presidential candidate.
The judge made the ruling after a Zanu PF member, Lovedale Mangwana, approached the court seeking an order to declare a decision by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to accept Kasukuwere’s nomination papers null and void.
Mangwana said Kasukuwere’s candidature was in violation of section 91 of the Constitution because he had been out of his constituency and country for 18 consecutive months.
Kasukuwere, who was popularly known as Tyson in Zanu PF political circles in his heyday, fled the country during the 2017 military coup which deposed the late former President Robert Mugabe and propelled Emmerson Mnangagwa to the Presidency.
In his opposing papers, Kasukuwere, through his lawyers from Mhishi Nkomo Legal Practice, denied that he had been out of the country for 18 months and demanded proof.
Kasukuwere claimed that he left the country on a temporary basis on medical grounds.
He also said he was a registered voter and was appearing on the voters roll in compliance with section 91 of the Constitution.
In his ruling, the judge said Kasukuwere had failed to provide evidence that he was out of the country on a temporary basis.
“Kasukuwere, for some inexplicable reason, snatches the onus from Mangwana to himself,” Justice Mangota said.
“He challenges Mangwana to challenge him to prove that he was out of Zimbabwe for more than 18 consecutive months. He confirms in paragraph 22.6 that he was out of Zimbabwe on a temporary basis when he went for treatment.
“He does not, however, show, as he offers to do, the date(s) that he left Zimbabwe and/or the date(s) that he returned to Zimbabwe. Nor does he attach to his notice of opposition a doctor’s report which indicates he was/is, indeed, receiving medical attention from outside Zimbabwe.”
He added: “All what he does is to depose his opposing affidavit not from Zimbabwe, but from South Africa. The observed matter confirms that, even as the application is heard, he is not in Zimbabwe and/or his constituency as well as that he will return to Zimbabwe at some future, but unknown date.”
In his founding affidavit, Mangwana argued that the Electoral Act does not allow a candidate who has been out of the country for over 18 months to contest for Presidency.
“The law is that if you are not ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe for 18 months, then you are said to have ceased to be a registered voter,” said advocate Lewis Uriri, who is representing Mangwana.
“So Mr Kasukuwere ceased by operation of law to be a registered voter and consequently ceased to be qualified to run for or to occupy the office of the President of Zimbabwe.
“So the court has declared acceptance of his nomination by the nomination court sitting at Harare invalid and consequently he cannot run for the office of the President.”
Kasukuwere faces arrest over pending cases, police have said.
Zanu PF has also said Kasukuwere faces other criminal charges.
However, sources said there was panic in Zanu PF over Kasukuwere’s candidature amid fears that he may split the ruling party vote. – News Day