HIGH Court Justice David Mangota on Friday reserved judgment in a case in which Zanu PF activist Lovedale Mangwana is seeking to stop independent presidential candidate Savior Kasukuwere from contesting the elections on 23 August.
Advocate Lewis Uriri and Advocate Edley Mubaiwa represented Mangwana while Advocate Method Ndhlovu and Advocate Reginald Mutero argued for Kasukuwere.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, who were both cited together with Kasukuwere as respondents, did not oppose Mangwana’s application.
Zec indicated it would abide by the court ruling while Ziyambi did not file opposing papers.
Harare lawyer Jacqueline Sande, who is Kasukuwere’s chief election agent, wrote on Twitter that the case will fall away.
“The applicant argued that President Kasukuwere is no longer a registered voter and is not entitled to participate. The president contended otherwise arguing that applicant had approached the wrong forum and without sufficient evidence to sustain his case. The presiding judge, Justice Mangota reserved judgment. The president is upbeat that the application will be dismissed,” she said.
Mangwana, who wants to stop Kasukuwere from contesting the presidential race, has close links to the Mangwana family of Information ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana and Zanu PF legal affairs secretary Paul Mangwana, senior Zanu PF officials and resultantly to Mnangagwa himself.
There are concerns that Mangwana is acting in the interest of Mnangagwa who is panicking over Kusukwere’s candidature. Kasukuwere has potential to split the votes and either influence a presidential election run-off or outright victory of opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change party leader Nelson Chamisa.
If Kasukuwere were to get between 50 000 and 100 000 votes from the Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West and Mashonaland East provinces where he is thought to be popular, he could dent Mnangagwa’s chances of winning.
Those numbers of votes are possible for Kasukuwere who was the Zanu PF commissar and marshalled support in Mashonaland provinces particularly in Mashonaland Central’s Mount Darwin South constituency where he was once a member of Parliament.
Another factor that is making Mnangagwa panic over Kasukuwere is the prospect that he can be voted by disgruntled Zanu PF supporters, who are remnants of the G40 faction that was toppled by the military in the 2017 coup.
Mnangagwa is also panicking over Kasukuwere’s presidential candidature because of the delicate ethnic dynamics in Zanu PF pitting the Zezurus and Karangas.
Mnangagwa is a Karanga and Kasukuwere a Zezuru. Therefore, Kasukuwere is likely to woo Zanu PF Zezuru voters from Mnangagwa and therefore again cause an upset based on these ethnic party dynamics.
Mashonaland provinces consist of big numbers of registered voters. Mashonaland Central has 536 450; Mashonaland east 641 701 and Mashonaland West 661 393.
Kasukuwere therefore has a chance of amassing a significant number of these votes from Zanu PF supporters who ordinarily would have no choice but to vote for Mnangagwa in the absence of the exiled former cabinet minister on the ballot paper.
Kasukuwere, during his time as Youth minister, recruited young people from the people into the security services such as Central Intelligence Organisation, Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe National Army.
In doing so, he was seen as promoting the youth empowerment programme for the party. The young officers have since matured, gained experience of at least 10 years and acquainted themselves in election-related matters such that they can work with Kasukuwere in his campaign bid. There is every reason for Mnangagwa to panic.
In 2008, former Zanu PF Finance minister Simba Makoni had a similar X-factor effect when he denied the late president Robert Mugabe outright victory over the late opposition MDC icon Morgan Tsvangirai.
Makoni contested in the presidential election and garnered 8% of votes while Mugabe got 43% when he needed 50 plus one vote for outright victory. Makoni’s 8%, had it gone to Mugabe, could have propelled the long-time ruler to 51%, an outright win.
In another experience of split votes, in 2018 former MDC vice-president Thokozani Khupe prevented Chamisa from winning the presidential elections by eating into the opposition leader’s votes by 45 000 votes when he need just above
30 000 to beat Mnangagwa.
In his founding affidavit, Mangwana says “. . . I have indicated that I am aware that first respondent has been away from the republic for a period in excess of 18 months.
“I add that this a continuous period of absence. In other words, he has been out of the republic for each day of the past 18 months. I add that this is in fact a matter of public record. I dare him to indicate otherwise. I understand that his absence from the country for that period of time has much consequence at law.
“I draw attention to provisions of section 23 (3) of the Electoral Act which enacts: “(3) A voter who is registered on the voters roll for a constituency, other than a voter who has been registered in that constituency in terms of the proviso to subsection (1), shall not be entitled to have his or her name retained on such roll if, for a continuous period of eighteen months, he or she has ceased to reside in that constituency: Provided that nothing in this subsection shall prevent his or her name from being struck off such voters’ roll — “(a) on his or her being registered in another constituency; or (b) if he or she becomes disqualified for registration as a voter.” I submit that the absence of first respondent from the country for more than 18 consecutive months has the effect that his name ceased to be retained on the voters’ roll. I add that this occurred by operation of law.”
“I submit that the decision to accept first respondent’s nomination papers is contrary to the law set out in this provision in that first respondent, being a non-voter, cannot be nominated for election to any office.”
This is what Mangwana, who is clearly a Mnangagwa proxy or the proverbial tortoise on a lamppost, wants.
His calculated political action benefits Mnangagwa more than anyone else, showing that the President is running scared.