HARARE – Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court is today expected to rule an opposition bid to have presidential election results thrown out over alleged rigging in favour of Robert Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Emmerson Mnangagwa is the legitimate president-elect of Zimbabwe, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled on Friday, dismissing the main opposition party’s challenge that the July election was rigged.
The application was dismissed with costs.
The election, in which Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa were the main contenders, was touted as a crucial step towards economic recovery and shedding Zimbabwe’s pariah reputation, but instead has left the nation deeply polarised.
An army crackdown in response to post-election violence by opposition supporters left six people dead on August 1, recalling the heavy-handed security tactics that marked the 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe, who was removed in a coup last November.
Chamisa’s lawyers accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of inflating Mnangagwa’s vote tally by 69,000 to avoid a runoff, and that the ZEC’s revision of the results was sufficient evidence that fraud occurred. However, the court ruled that they presented no proof of irregularities.
Mnangagwa, who will most likely be inaugurated on Sunday, faces the challenge of persuading the international community that the army crackdown and lapses in the election process will not derail his promise of political and economic reforms needed to fix the economy.
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Chief Justice Malaba: The applicant made several startling allegations without referring to source evidence.
ZEC proved through the V11 forms that some forms were signed and populated as opposed to what the applicant said.
Chief Justice Malaba: The amendment of results by ZEC has no bearing on the results of the election.
This is simply because the applicant needed more evidence in the inaccuracy of the figures
Chief Justice Malaba: If the applicant had placed before the court the V11 forms it would have disposed of any questions of vote rigging, it would have addressed issues of similar results at some polling stations.
That evidence was not adduced
The Chief Justice us now reading the complaints raised by the applicant on the conduct of the elections.
These include bribery by the incumbent, undue influence, rogue military personnel, the failure display V11 forms, and so on
Chief Justice Malaba says the applicant would only serve the application to the respondents through the sheriff.
The application was eventually served out of time, he says
A renowned Zimbabwean journalist is tweeting that the Constitutional Court judgment initially scheduled for 14:00 will now be handed down at 15:00.
See tweet below
Zimbabwe’s main opposition is expressing concern over reports that preparations have begun for the inauguration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa even before the constitutional court has ruled on its challenge to the election results.
A spokesperson has spoken to reporters an hour before the court is set to announce its ruling. The spokesperson says inauguration preparations cannot begin before the court ruling and “that is a problem.”
If the court upholds Mnangagwa’s narrow election victory the inauguration would be held within 48 hours. An Associated Press reporter sees no preparations at the national stadium in the capital, Harare. – AP
Watch this MDC press conference taking place at the Constitutional Court building right now.
Nelson Chamisa’s spokesperson, Nkululeko Sibanda says his boss is expressing concern over the statement by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga suggesting that the president of Zimbabwe would be Mnangagwa regardless of the outcome of the court process.
He says this clearly undermines the court process.
The MDC is confident of a win, according to an eNCA reporter.
See the tweet below
The MDC is confident of a win, according to an eNCA reporter.
See the tweet below
An eNCA journalist is tweeting and quoting Zanu-PF as saying that President Mnangagwa is at a funeral and it’s not clear whether he will or will not be president at the Constitutional Court this afternoon.
See tweet below
Zimbabwe’s Daily News reports that the United States has issued a travel warning to its citizens ahead of the Constitutional Court ruling.
“Zimbabwe is is experiencing civil unrest, violence and heightened political tension following the general elections held on July 30,”
WHAT TO EXPECT ON JUDGEMENT DAY
As the Constitutional Court considers the evidence ahead of handing down judgement in the election petition, law experts are predicting Zanu PF leader Emmerson Mnangagwa will triumph.
Zimbabwe’s privately owned Independent newspaper looks at some of those predictions.
Some useful background information
The July 30 vote was peaceful but scenes of the military sweeping into the capital two days later to disperse opposition protesters — six people were killed — led to fears that the government of the 75-year-old Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe enforcer, was stuck in the past despite declarations of reforms.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared Mnangagwa won with 50.8% of the vote but later revised that down to 50.6%, attributing the revision to an “error” but arguing it was not significant enough to invalidate the win. It said Chamisa received 44.3%.
In the court hearing this week, the opposition claimed the electoral commission bumped up Mnangagwa’s figures through double counts and the creation of “ghost” polling stations.
It also alleged that some polling stations recorded more voters than those registered.”It’s like a kid was playing with the figures,” a lawyer for the opposition, Thabani Mpofu, told the court.
He said Chamisa could have lost more than 69,000 votes in all, well over the 31,000 that allowed Mnangagwa to avoid a runoff election.
Chief Justice Luke Malaba, however, pressed the opposition for the original election results forms to back up their allegations: “We cannot act on generalities.”
The lawyer for Mnangagwa, Lewis Uriri, agreed: “The mere making of bold allegations does not make and cannot threaten an election.”
According to Veritas, a legal think tank, the court can declare a winner or invalidate the election and call for a fresh vote or make any other order it considers “just and appropriate.” – AP
Security is tight in the capital, Harare, as the court will determine whether President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s narrow victory is valid.
The opposition claims vote-rigging and seeks either a fresh election or a declaration that its candidate, Nelson Chamisa, won.
A credible vote is key to lifting international sanctions as the southern African nation tries to move away from the long shadow of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule.
The July 30 vote was peaceful but scenes of the military sweeping into the capital two days later to disperse opposition protesters led to fears that the government of Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe enforcer, was stuck in the past despite declarations of reforms. – AP
Leader of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance Nelson Chamisa has tweeted:
“I’m so happy with e primary evidence & V11s we adduced based on ZEC’s own data. ZEC’s admission to making mistakes x3 in election result settles the matter. Key ? ..Was that e only mistake? ZEC seeks e court to validate a mistake & hopes to have a Con-court uphold a mistake??”
The Zimbabwean government is calling on Zimbabweans to maintain “peace and tranquillity” after today’s ruling by the constitutional court.
The state-owned Herald newspaper quotes the Acting Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting services, Simon Khaya Moyo as saying:
“As the Constitutional Court delivers its verdict tomorrow (today), let the nation embrace the outcome with calm, decency, sobriety and genial composure.”
“The unity and peace evident throughout the country is highly commendable inclusive of the admirable tranquillity displayed by the citizenry in general throughout the Constitutional Court. We must avoid any form of violence irrespective of the outcome.”
Here is an overview on what transpired on Wednesday during a hearing where lawyers of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance sought to prove to the court that the vote was rigged in favour of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
According to Zimbabwe’s state-owned Herald newspaper, if the constitutional court endorses President Mnangagwa’s victory, he is expected to be inaugurated within 48 hours as postulated under the Electoral Act which has to be by 14:00on Sunday.
The ruling of the court will be final and cannot be appealed.
Zimbabwe’s vice president Constantino Chiwenga has reportedly said that nothing will change the election of Emmerson Mnangagwa as president of the southern African country, despite an opposition Constitutional Court petition challenging the vote.
According to NewsDay, speaking at Inyati Imhenyu Farm in Banket early this week, Chiwenga said Mnangagwa would remain president even after the much anticipated court ruling on Friday.
“We are happy that you voted for President-elect Mnangagwa, who will be the President of the country after the court (ConCourt) hearing… Nothing is going to change,” Chiwenga was quoted as saying.
Thembinkosi Magwaliba, representing Mnangagwa, dismissed claims that the opposition had produced any evidence of fraud.
Tight security “This application was not seriously done. The applicant is clearly flippant,” he said.Nine judges, led by Chief Justice Luke Malaba, heard the case in Harare, amid tight security. – AFP
Lawyers for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition argued that the results should be annulled due to “massive doctoring” of the July 30 vote.
“There is a massive cover-up. There has been a massive doctoring of evidence,” Thabani Mpofu, representing the MDC, told the court Wednesday. – AFP
Zimbabwe’s top court was set to rule on Friday on an opposition bid to have presidential election results thrown out over alleged rigging in favour of Robert Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The Constitutional Court in Harare said it would hand down its verdict at 14:00 after considering arguments put before judges on Wednesday, with analysts predicting it would rule against the appeal. – AFP