Top Harare lawyer and Zanu PF MP Jonathan Samukange on Thursday dumped his high-profile client, the former Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, following pressure from the party.

Kasukuwere returned from self-imposed exile to face charges of criminal abuse of office over land transactions that took place when he was still a minister, before the government of President Robert Mugabe was deposed in a military coup last November.

The combative former Zanu PF national political commissar and Mugabe loyalist, who sees his trial as a victor’s justice, had engaged Samukange, the Zanu PF Mudzi South MP, to represent him.

But Samukange suddenly filed a notice of denunciation of agency on Thursday. This came after the lawyer came under intense pressure from Zanu PF, with the party’s chief whip Pupurai Togarepi said to be leading the charge in Parliament.

The Zanu PF’s Youth League had also issued a threatening statement, stating: “We have been inundated with questions about Mr Samkange’s political standing and we will continue to seek answers to those questions.

“So now, as we hereby do, we demand that Mr Samukange state where he stands politically, what his principles and allegiance are.”

“Be pleased to take note that Venturas and Samkange hereby renounce agency for and on behalf of the accused,” Samukange wrote to the National Prosecuting Authority on Thursday.

The lawyer told reporters the decision had been taken due to a “conflict of interest.”