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Court Denies Ex-Official From Zimbabwe Polls

FILE - A child keeps an eye on his father who casts his vote at a polling station in Harare, Zimbabwe, Monday, July, 30, 2018.

Harare — A Zimbabwe court disqualified a former minister and senior ruling party official, who fled the country after the 2017 overthrow of former President Robert Mugabe from, from running in next month's election.

Saviour Kasukuwere, 52, was denied running in the country's next presidential election following a complaint filed by a member of the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front, ZANU-PF.

Lovedale Mangwana who asked the court to remove Kasukuwere from the ballot paper, argued that Kasukuwere had not been in Zimbabwe for the required 18 months necessary to be eligible to stand in the August 23 general election, in accordance with the country's constitution.

In response, Kasukuwere said in a tweet that he will file an appeal against the high court decision, adding, "We therefore continue to campaign!"

Lewis Uriri, the lawyer for ZANU-PF in the case, is satisfied that Kasukuwere has been disqualified.

"(The court) interdicted him from holding himself out as a candidate in the upcoming elections whether physically or by any form of media whatsoever," Uriri said. "The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has been interdicted from having his name on the ballot paper for the 23rd of August 2023."

Jaqueline Sande, one of the lawyers for Kasukuwere, said they will appeal the ruling.

"We are going to fight to the bitter end until we are given the right to participate in these elections," Sande said. "We think the judgment itself is flawed, and it went further to make provisions which the applicant had not requested in respect of the provision that Kasukuwere should not hold himself out as a candidate whether inside or outside of Zimbabwe. I found that very odd because it's something that the applicant had not prayed for."

Kasukuwere would have battled it out with 10 other candidates, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa. The Zimbabwean leader won by less than 400,000 votes in the 2018 elections after defeating the main opposition's Nelson Chamisa.

Commenting on the ruling, Alexander Rusero, a politics professor at Africa University in Zimbabwe, said, "It is very unfortunate because the real electoral balance of forces were actually with Savior Kasukuwere. So, it is actually a sad day in as much as the independence of the courts are concerned, in as much as electoral democracy in Zimbabwe is concerned, because technicalities are one way or the other prone to become lawfare. So, you cannot bar someone outside of contesting when you have accepted his nomination papers. It leaves a lot to be desired."

Zimbabwe's previous elections have been marred by violence targeting the opposition, resulting in the results being disputed.