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Supreme Court to rule on Kasukuwere appeal

by Staff reporter
19 Jul 2023 at 06:37hrs | Views
The Supreme Court will rule tomorrow whether the appeal by independent presidential aspirant Saviour Kasukuwere challenging a High Court ruling disqualifying him from contesting the August 23 election should be heard urgently.

Kasukuwere remains on the ballot until the appeal is heard.

The decision by the High Court last week that Mr Kasukuwere was no longer a voter, and therefore, could not contest any election, was stayed the moment he filed his appeal with the Supreme Court.

Harare lawyer Mr Lovedale Mangwana, who brought the original suit, wants the appeal heard as a matter of urgency.

ZEC is now also involved, but only supporting the application for an urgent appeal, as the final ballot paper needs to be printed soon and ZEC wants to know whether to include or exclude Mr Kasukuwere. ZEC is not involved in the actual case, but is interested in knowing whether to include Mr Kasukuwere on the ballot or not.

By close of business yesterday, Mr Kasukuwere was expected to submit his reply to the application brought by Mr Mangwana and ZEC, and his heads of argument by 10am tomorrow (Thursday)  four hours before the hearing at 2pm.

Mr Mangwana and ZEC have to submit their reply to Mr Kasukuwere and their heads of argument by 1pm today.

If the Supreme Court grants the application for an urgent appeal, then the appeal will be heard soon afterwards, probably within days.

In his urgent application, Mr Mangwana is seeking the court to exercise its inherent jurisdiction to regulate and control the proceedings in the appeal and order its urgent set down, hearing and determination, citing the general public and national importance of the matter and the fact that the election is now less than two months away.

Mr Mangwana last week won the first round of the legal battle to thwart Mr Kasukuwere from entering the race for the highest office on the land after the High Court found his nomination was invalid as he had been absent from Zimbabwe for more than 18 months without being in one of the categories where this does not lead to being deleted from the voters roll.

Suspecting that Mr Kasukuwere was unlikely to prosecute his appeal urgently, so in the normal course of events it was likely to be heard only after the election, Mr Mangwana took it upon himself to make sure the appeal is brought forward to be decided ahead of the election, which is 35 days away.

He approached the Supreme Court on an urgent basis requesting for the appeal to be heard promptly.

A three-judge panel convened yesterday for case management, with the panel comprising lead judge Justice Susan Mavangira and Justice Chinembiri Bhunu and Justice Felistas Chatukuta.

After consultation with both parties' lawyers, it was unanimously agreed to have the urgent chamber application heard tomorrow. In the meantime, both parties' lawyers are now required to file the necessary papers by tomorrow morning.

"Mr Kasukuwere had to file his opposing papers by close of business yesterday and Mr Mangwana, ZEC and others should file their answering affidavits and heads of argument simultaneously by 1pm today, with Mr Kasukuwere having to file his heads of argument by 10am tomorrow before the hearing at 2pm, said Mr Kasukuwere's lawyer and chief elections agent, Ms Jackie Sande, briefing journalists outside the Supreme Court yesterday.

If the court rules that Mr Mangwana's application has merit, the appeal will be brought forward for hearing, in within days.

In his ruling last week, High Court Judge Justice David Mangota disqualified Kasukuwere from contesting in the elections on the grounds that he was no longer eligible to be listed on the voters roll.

The law disqualifies a voter who has been absent for more than 18 months and Mr Kasukuwere had failed to prove he had not been absent from Zimbabwe for at least 18 months, which is a breach of the Electoral Act.

The judge said a certified copy of Mr Kasukuwere's passport would have shown any entries into Zimbabwe that would have restarted the clock.

The judge also dismissed Mr Kasukuwere's statement that he was in South Africa for medical treatment, as there was zero supporting evidence, such as a medical report.

Mr Kasukuwere wants to contest as an independent candidate and was among the 11 candidates that successfully filed their nomination on June 21 to contest in the Presidential election on August 23.

Other candidates are President Mnangagwa of Zanu-PF, Joseph Makamba Busha of Free Zim Congress, Nelson Chamisa of CCC, Trust Chikohora of ZCPD, Blessing Kasiyamhuru of ZIPP, Professor Lovemore Madhuku of NCA, Wilbert Mubaiwa of NPC, Gwinyai Henry Muzorewa of UANC, Douglas Mwonzora of MDC and Wilson Harry Peter of DOP.

Source - The Herald