Kasukuwere Ban Has Far Reaching Implications On Zimbabweans In The Diaspora
17 July 2023
Spread the love

The High Court ruling barring former Cabinet minister Saviour Kasukuwere from contesting in the August 23 polls is likely to have far-reaching implications on Zimbabweans in the diaspora who wish to participate in the upcoming elections, legal experts have warned.

Last week, Kasukuwere was disqualified from contesting the upcoming presidential race after the High Court ruled that he did not meet the criteria to contest because he has not been a resident in Zimbabwe for the past 18 months.

A Zanu PF activist, Lovedale Mangwana, successfully challenged the former Cabinet minister’s candidature on July 12 and High Court judge Justice David Mangota ruled that Kasukuwere should not be included on the ballot paper, ordering him to “stop masquerading as a candidate”.

Kasukuwere, who is in self-exile in South Africa, filed his nomination papers on June 21 to participate in the presidential poll for the first time in his political career.

Legal experts told NewsDay yesterday that the Kasukuwere ruling was a setback for Zimbabweans in the diaspora wishing to participate in the electoral process.

Legal expert Dumisani Dube said the recent court ruling had the potential of disenfranchising millions of Zimbabweans in the diaspora.

“That could be the implication of that interpretation. It can deny others a chance to vote, remember it has been challenged and most of our people in the diaspora will likely fail to participate in the election which is contrary to what the Constitution says,” Dube said.

“Remember, a right to vote is a constitutional right and no one should take it away. I don’t agree with what that judge said, as it can be used to deny others the right to vote.”

Lawyer Alec Muchadehama said the High Court failed to prove that Kasukuwere’s name was not on the voters roll.

“I do not agree with the High Court’s judgment since it failed to prove that Kasukuwere’s name was not on the voters roll and Kasukuwere’s judgment is irrelevant,” Muchadehama said.

“Well, other citizens may not be affected as this provision specifically targeted those who want to contest for the presidency. As long as ordinary citizens are on the voters roll, they can come and vote.”

Posting on Twitter, journalist and activist Hopewell Chin’ono said the ruling was a blow to the rights of Zimbabweans in the diaspora.

“Zimbabweans in South Africa and beyond, who have not been in Zimbabwe for more than 18 months, can be potentially stopped from voting if this judgment is taken to its logical conclusion.

“Political actors should treat this judgment seriously. It doesn’t affect Kasukuwere only. It is a dangerous judgment, but people are quiet,” he tweeted.

Election Resource Centre legal and advocacy officer Takunda Tsunga said registered citizens who were living abroad could participate in the electoral process if they were registered and appeared on the voters roll.

“The complexity in the judgment is that while the court deemed that Kasukuwere has not been resident in Zimbabwe for a period exceeding 18 months, there have been no indications from the (Zimbabwe) Electoral Commission that his name has been removed from the voters roll,” Tsunga said.

“The commission is the only body legally mandated to remove names from the voters roll.

There are procedures involved when removing names from the voters roll, which include the publication of the intention to remove names from the voters roll, following an investigation by the commission on the alleged absence of a person for a continuous period exceeding 18 months.

“Therefore, for registered Zimbabweans living abroad, they are still entitled to vote as there have not been any removals for absence.”

Zimbabwe Election Advocacy Trust executive director Ignatious Sadziwa said the law did not necessarily affect the voter.

“Inasmuch as section 23 of the electoral law prohibits candidates who have resided outside the country for 18 months, the law doesn’t necessarily affect the voter as long as they are not displaced from the delimitation exercise they can still participate,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is set to hear Kasukuwere’s appeal tomorrow.

On Saturday, Supreme Court Registrar Dorothy Mwanyisa said: “Take notice that the above court application will be heard and determined by the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe at Harare on Tuesday at 9:30am or so soon thereafter as counsel may be heard.”

Last week, Kasukuwere’s chief election agent and spokesperson Jacqueline Sande vowed to “fight to the bitter end” to block the removal of the former Zanu PF commissar from the ballot paper.

“The judgment is regrettable and cannot be sustained by an appellate court,” she said.