Former Mugabe ally appeals ban on contesting Zimbabwe general election

Former minister Saviour Kasukuwere banned from running as an independent candidate on grounds he lived outside Zimbabwe for the last 18 months

An ally of Zimbabwe’s former leader, Robert Mugabe, has lodged an appeal against a court ruling that has banned him from contesting the nation’s August general elections.

Saviour Kasukuwere (52), a government minister and political commissar under Mr Mugabe before the latter was ousted from power by the military, was one of 11 candidates approved by the Zimbabwe election commission to run in the presidential poll. Mr Kasukuwere fled Zimbabwe after Mr Mugabe’s removal from office.

The front-runners to become Zimbabwe’s next leader are current president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who leads the ruling Zanu-PF party, and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa of the newly formed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). Analysts believe Mr Kasukuwere’s decision to enter the race had dealt a blow to Mr Mnangagwa’s chances of retaining power, as it could split his support among voters who traditionally back Zanu-PF at elections.

However, the Zimbabwe high court has now barred Mr Kasukuwere from running as an independent candidate on the grounds he had lived outside of Zimbabwe for the last 18 months, which it said made him ineligible to contest the August 23rd poll.


Prior to the 2017 coup Mr Kasukuwere was linked to a faction in Zanu-PF called Generation 40. This group of politicians wanted Grace Mugabe to succeed her ageing husband. Mr Mugabe died in 2019, two years after the coup that forced him from office.

Mr Kasukuwere has appealed his ban to the supreme court, arguing he left the country on a temporary basis only and on medical grounds. His decision to appeal suspends the high court’s ruling, issued last Wednesday. until the matter is settled, allowing him to remain for now on the ballot paper and continue with his campaign.

The chairman of Mr Kasukuwere’s election campaign, Walter Mzembi, said in a statement that the high court “judgment does not deter our ground activation which is running full steam”.

With less than six weeks to go to the elections, the political violence and intimidation that marred previous polls has allegedly re-emerged in parts of the troubled country, which has found it difficult to leave the chaos of the Mugabe era behind. In recent weeks, the CCC has claimed its political rallies have been disrupted or banned by police and its supporters attacked by ruling party members. It has also accused the Zimbabwe electoral commission of refusing to release the voters’ roll for independent verification.

Nevertheless, the race to become president, which requires the winner to get more than 50 per cent of the vote, appears close, according to recent election polls. A survey in June of 2,000 voters by Elite Africa Research found 47.6 per cent backed Mr Chamisa, while 38.7 per cent supported Mr Mnangagwa. Such a result would lead to a second-round run-off. A second survey undertaken by Afrobarometer in partnership with local Zimbabwean researchers, the Mass Public Opinion Institute, found that in the parliamentary poll Zanu-PF would win 35 per cent of the vote while the CCC would get 27 per cent.

Bill Corcoran

Bill Corcoran

Bill Corcoran is a contributor to The Irish Times based in South Africa