HARARE – Former Minister Saviour Kasukuwere who this week entered the Presidential election race on filing his papers in the nomination court, has been described by the State media as a fugitive.
In the report, Kasukuwere is said to be having two outstanding arrest warrants against him.
According to The Herald, a news publication, these warrants were issued before he announced his intention to run for the presidency. The first warrant was issued on January 18, 2019, by a retired Harare magistrate after Kasukuwere failed to appear in court to face charges of criminal abuse of office. The second warrant was issued because Kasukuwere did not submit his passport to the court as required. The warrants have not been canceled, and the police confirmed that they are still in possession of them.
Kasukuwere, who is currently based in South Africa, and according to the State media, he is portraying his charges as politically motivated and expressing fear of arrest upon returning to Zimbabwe to campaign for the presidential elections. However, the authorities have stated that he should submit himself before the law and seek cancellation of the warrants through his lawyers.
The Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs Permanent Secretary also emphasized that complying with the law and submitting to the legal process is the standard procedure in such cases.
Kasukuwere himself this week said he fears for his safety if he returns to Zimbabwe where he is expected to launch his election campaign in person.
He will be contesting as an independent presidential candidate in the August 23 plebiscite after successfully filing his nomination in absentia on Tuesday.
Addressing the media at a press briefing in South Africa, Kasukuwere said he will be engaging responsible authorities to ensure his safety.
Kasukuwere left the country in the 2017 military coup that removed the late Robert Mugabe from power.
At that time he was facing some criminal charges which were later quashed by the High Court.
Asked if he does not fear returning to Zimbabwe after filing his nomination papers, Wednesday, Kasukuwere said he has to take security issues into consideration.
“Yes we have to take security issues into consideration. You don’t board a plane as passenger 34 and just rock up without doing some preparatory work.
“We did that to see the reaction and very interesting results came our way,” he said.
He added, “But we trust that now we are in the election period. You can’t weaponise institutions against your opponents. I’m sure this is an election that everyone wants to proceed smoothly so that the outcome is not contested.
Kasukuwere, who is currently in exile in South Africa, has hinted at seeking protection from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as he launched his bid for the presidency of Zimbabwe.
Kasukuwere, a former minister and member of the ruling Zanu PF party, plans to return to Zimbabwe to campaign for the upcoming general elections. He expressed concern about his safety and stated that he would raise the issue with relevant authorities and SADC monitoring teams.
Kasukuwere also announced his plans to hire buses to transport Zimbabweans based in South Africa to return home and vote in the elections. He emphasized the importance of protecting all contestants in the election and ensuring a smooth process.
Additionally, he pledged to address the Gukurahundi atrocities, which occurred in the Matabeleland region after Zimbabwe’s independence and promised to focus on employment opportunities, state institution reforms, economic growth, and the fight against corruption if elected.
During his campaign launch, Kasukuwere was accompanied by Walter Mzembi, a former tourism and foreign minister, who is assisting him with his campaign and was referred to as his “running mate.”
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has announced that eleven candidates will participate in the presidential election scheduled for August 23. Out of the 21 candidates who submitted their nomination papers, ten were rejected for various reasons such as failure to pay the required fee of US$20,000 or insufficient nominations from registered voters. Each candidate needed 10 nominations from each of the country’s 10 provinces.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the Zanu PF party and his main rival Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) had their nomination papers accepted. Former cabinet minister Saviour Kasukuwere will also be on the ballot as an independent candidate.
Other accepted candidates include Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC-T, Lovemore Madhuku of NCA, Joseph Busha of Free Zim Congress, Trust Chikohora of ZCPD, Blessing Kasiyamhuru of ZIPP, Wilbert Archbald Mubaiwa of NPC, Gwinyai Muzorewa of UANC, and Harry Peter Wilson of DOP.
ZEC’s deputy chairman, Rodney Kiwa, mentioned that the lists of successful candidates for the National Assembly and local authority elections will be released by June 30, allowing time for candidates to file court appeals if needed.
Kiwa also stated that there were instances of double candidates from one party, believed to be the CCC, recorded in Harare, Bulawayo, and Masvingo. The CCC alleges that these candidates forged signatures and has expressed its intention to take legal action.