Herald Disappoints Kasukuwere Ahead Of Time
28 July 2023
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Govt Herald’s Presumptuous Announcement on Kasukuwere Court Case Violates Journalistic and Legal Principles

By Dorrothy Moyo | In a surprising and concerning turn of events, the government-owned Herald newspaper has been criticized for violating both journalistic ethics and legal principles by prematurely labeling Independent Presidential aspirant Saviour Kasukuwere a “loser” in his ongoing court case. The case, which is currently being appealed, challenges a High Court decision that effectively disqualified him from contesting the 2023 elections on the grounds that he is no longer a voter in Zimbabwe.

The Herald’s controversial announcement came amidst the anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Kasukuwere’s appeal. The appeal was brought forward to ensure a timely decision before the upcoming elections scheduled for August 23.

A three-judge panel, led by Justice Antonia Guvava and comprising Justices Chinembiri Bhunu and Felistas Chatukuta, heard submissions from both parties’ legal counsel and reserved judgment for the day of the ruling. Professor Welshman Ncube, Advocate Method Ndlovu, and Adv Reginald Mutero represented Mr. Kasukuwere, while Harare lawyer Mr. Lovedale Mangwana, who initially brought the suit against Kasukuwere, was represented by Adv Lewis Uriri and Adv Edley Mubaiwa.

It is essential to note that the decision of the High Court, which stated that Mr. Kasukuwere was no longer a voter and thus ineligible to contest any election, was temporarily stayed when he filed his appeal with the Supreme Court.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has played a role in the proceedings, although not directly involved in the case itself. ZEC supported the application for an urgent appeal due to the impending deadline for printing the final ballot papers. The commission needs to know whether to include or exclude Mr. Kasukuwere from the ballot for the upcoming election.

In the urgent application filed by Mr. Mangwana, he requested the court’s inherent jurisdiction to expedite the appeal’s proceedings, citing its significant public and national importance, especially given that the election is just two months away.

Mr. Mangwana had previously secured a legal victory when the High Court found Kasukuwere’s nomination invalid due to his absence from Zimbabwe for more than 18 months, a disqualifying factor for voters. Kasukuwere’s claim of being in South Africa for medical treatment lacked substantiating evidence, such as a medical report, which the judge deemed insufficient to counter the absence from Zimbabwe.

The Herald’s rush to prematurely announce Mr. Kasukuwere as a “loser” in the ongoing court case is a clear violation of journalistic principles, including the duty to report facts accurately and impartially. Such presumptuous reporting undermines the integrity of the legal process and the principles of justice, potentially influencing public opinion and perceptions before the court reaches its final decision.

Media outlets, especially state-owned newspapers, have a responsibility to uphold the highest standards of journalism and impartiality. By jumping to conclusions before the court delivers its ruling, the Herald has failed in its duty to provide fair and unbiased reporting to its readers.

As the Supreme Court prepares to rule on the appeal, it is crucial for all media outlets, including the Herald, to exercise restraint and refrain from making prejudiced announcements that could undermine the credibility of the judiciary and the democratic process. Let us remember that the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial are fundamental principles that must be upheld at all times, regardless of a person’s political affiliations or public standing.