HARARE - Commentators have expressed surprise at the decision by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku to summon to court today all parties involved in outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s election challenge following the withdrawal of his petition on Friday.
Tsvangirai had filed a Constitutional Court application seeking nullification of president-elect Robert Mugabe’s win.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) announced that Mugabe won by 61,09 percent, while Tsvangirai got 33,94 percent, but the MDC leader said the election was rigged and demanded a re-run within 60 days.
But Tsvangirai dropped the legal challenge arguing he will not get a fair trial after the High Court delayed judgement in another case seeking access to full details of the results from the electoral commission.
After the withdrawal, Chidyausiku instructed all parties to appear before the Constitutional Court today, amid State-controlled media reports that a determination will be made notwithstanding Tsvangirai’s withdrawal.
Some legal experts said Tsvangirai’s withdrawal of the court case should put the case to rest and pave way for Mugabe’s inauguration.
The instruction for the parties to appear before the Constitutional Court has left some experts bewildered.
McDonald Lewanika of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said, Zanu PF was eager to go through the court process to vindicate its win.
“The game now is to ensure that Tsvangirai is not only down but is kept out — through a triple-thronged defeat — electorally (election results), politically (Southern African Development Community endorsement) and legally (legal failure at the Con-Court),” Lewanika said.
Kudzayi Kadzere, a Harare lawyer, said by summoning the lawyers, the Chief Justice probably had something to say.
“They are the apex court in the country, the final arbiter and so they are empowered with wide powers, but it is curious why they want to hear a withdrawn matter,” Kadzere said.
Analysts say in all likelihood, pursuing the election challenge in court would not have resolved the political crisis.
“I said it before that the political crisis is too serious, that it is judicially insoluble in the current context,” said leading rights lawyer and MDC MP-elect for Dangamvura-Chikanga, Arnold Tsunga.
“Morgan did the right thing and probably the only thing that was left of him and he must be congratulated.”
In a statement, Tsvangirai said he withdrew the application after a resolution was reached by his party’s national executive, after his failure to secure evidence to bolster his case from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
He also cites the court’s narrowing down of the petition to one based on affidavits, rather than going to trial, where several witnesses would be called to testify.
“Because of those two roadblocks placed our way it was futile to proceed with the case. It became very clear to us that this case was being predetermined,” Tsvangirai said.
He added: “Many of you have been made to believe that this marks the end of the road for us, that by withdrawing the court case, we have conceded defeat. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“The struggle has not ended. It is just starting. This was just the legal route. The struggle continues in the political arena. We have never closed our avenue to continue with the political struggle. This is a political crisis and it requires a political solution.”