Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court has upheld the disqualification of a former minister from challenging President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the August 23 elections because he is living in exile.
Former local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere was first banned from the race by the High Court early this month and on Friday the top court ruled that his appeal “lacked merit.”
“We carefully considered the evidence and oral submissions by both counsels,” the court ruling read in part.
“Court is of the view that the appeal lacks merit. Appeal be and is hereby dismissed.”
The High Court had ruled in favour of a ruling Zanu PF activist’s application seeking the disqualification of the loyalist of the late Robert Mugabe from the elections.
Mr Kasukuwere’s legal team declared that the ruling was “not the end of the road” as they indicated that they would mount a new Supreme Court challenge.
“As a nation we are on the eve of a constitutional crisis,” his lawyer Method Ndlovu said.
The 53-year-old politician, who lives in South Africa, said he was disappointed by the ruling.
“Disappointed and we are now considering our next steps and will keep the nation informed,” he tweeted. “God bless.”
Mr Kasukuwere recently wrote to the DRC President Felix Tshisekedi, who is the Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairperson, protesting against the move to exclude him from the ballot paper and accused President Mnangagwa of using underhand tactics to hang on to power.
Mr Kasukuwere, who was the late Mr Mugabe's last political commissar, has been rallying the former ruler's loyalists to dislodge President Mnangagwa from power.
His announcement that he will run for the presidency as an independent candidate had caused panic in President Mnangagwa’s camp amid threats to arrest him for alleged corruption.
Zimbabwe’s efforts to have the former minister put on Interpol’s wanted list failed after the international anti-crime body classified his case as political.
On Thursday, the country’s High Court disqualified 12 aspiring MPs from the main opposition Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) from the elections after they were accused of filing their nomination papers late.
President Mnangagwa, who is seeking his second and final term, will face 10 other candidates in the presidential election, including his nemesis Nelson Chamisa of CCC.
In the 2018 elections, the 80-year-old ruler narrowly beat Mr Chamisa in the disputed elections.
Observers say Zimbabwe is likely to have another disputed election due to disagreements over the voters roll and an uneven political playing field.