Zimbabwe has formally asked South Africa to extradite a former minister and top ally of former president Robert Mugabe who is wanted over corruption allegations.
The country’s prosecuting authority on Monday said former local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere must return home to face trial for illegally parceling out land to former first lady Grace Mugabe's sister.
Mr Kasukuwere, who was the ruling Zanu PF's political commissar by the time Mr Mugabe was toppled in a military coup in 2017, fled to South Africa during the ensuing upheavals in Zimbabwe.
In an extradition request sent to South Africa, Zimbabwe’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said the former minister, who was once touted as a future Zanu PF leader, will receive a fair trial if he is extradited.
"This request is not being pursued for political reasons or any ulterior purposes," wrote NPA’s Nelson Mutsonziwa.
"Zimbabwe guarantees that Saviour Kasukuwere will receive a fair trial in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe. The Republic of Zimbabwe also undertakes to render assistance to South Africa in any criminal matter," he added.
The two neighbours do not have an extradition agreement but Zimbabwean authorities say there are provisions to seek legal mutual assistance from South Africa in extradition cases.
Mr Kasukuwere, whose Harare mansion was attacked by Special Forces on the night of the coup, said he will resist attempts to extradite him.
"(It is) a political dispute that has been weaponised. I was shot at and they couldn't arrest me on November 2017. The shooting has not been investigated to this date. A coup continues to this day. Let us return to constitutionalism," he said.
South Africa is yet to respond to another extradition request for Mr Mugabe’s last Foreign Affairs minister Walter Mzembi.
Mr Mzembi, who is accused of criminal abuse of office, also says he is being persecuted over political differences with President Emmerson Mnangagwa that emanated from the coup.
President Mnangagwa has also demanded the extradition of Higher and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo, who sought refuge in Kenya after the coup.
Kenya is yet to respond to the request.
Last month, the 77 year-old ruler threatened to push for the extradition of Mr Mugabe’s loyalists, accusing them of influencing South Africa to adopt a tough stance against Zimbabwe.
South Africa's ruling ANC has of late become very vocal about Zimbabwe’s deteriorating economic situation and human rights violations.
On the other hand, Zimbabwe accuses its neighbour of meddling in its internal affairs.