Chamisa shouldn't go to court

HARARE - Nelson Chamisa, leader of the MDC Alliance, has said he will not accept the results of the hard-fought and blood-soaked July 30 election.

According to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) he lost, but could Chamisa legally challenge the results? And how would that process work?

According to leading domestic fact-checking portal, ZimFact, in terms of Zimbabwe’s Constitution, a court challenge against a presidential election must be lodged at the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) within seven days after the declaration of the results.

This means the opposition leader has up to Friday to file his court application.

The ConCourt must hear and determine the petition or application within 14 days after the petition or application was lodged.

The ConCourt’s decision is final.

Zimbabwe has a long history of contested elections.

And those are often close elections, so you have a variety of appeals.

But we have never had a major party candidate far in advance of an election saying that the only legitimate outcome is only his own victory like what Chamisa said.

That was unprecedented.

What he should have said is what every major, indeed every presidential candidate before him has said, which is, I will accept the outcome. And then, after the election, if there is some evidence that the election was tainted by fraud, then he could pursue that.

But by saying that, two weeks before the election, he undermined the legitimacy of the election and the individuals who it elects.

And it’s very dangerous and it’s destructive to the country, no wonder why that message was not received well by many people. This is not to disregard the disgraceful manner in which Zec ran the process.

There have been contested elections and really fiercely fought elections with a lot of bad feelings almost since the beginning of the republic.

What those have always produced is, with one pretty big exception, is the peaceful transition of power no matter how flawed the process was.

That exception, of course, is 2008, where the losing Zanu PF engaged the army to go on a murderous orgy, with results withheld for five weeks as the regime tinkered with ballots to fix the matrix of a runoff.

But with that pretty big exception, everyone, despite challenges, ultimately come around with the formation of a government of national unity.

Now, in 2018, Chamisa reserves the right to file a legal challenge to the questionable result.

It’s the most reasonable thing for him to do.

The winner of the election, president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa, has urged him to contest the result in the courts.

But, he needs to waive this right.

He doesn’t need to claim that right at all.

By doing so, he will be lending legal legitimacy to the poll result.

He must instead pursue megaphone diplomacy, even though it’s a long shot given that the chairman of the Southern African Development Community Cyril Ramaphosa has already endorsed Mnangagwa.

Chamisa, of all people, as an advocate of the High Court, knows pretty well any judge assigned to a case pitting the government against any opposition groups, but especially against the MDC Alliance, will no doubt face overwhelming pressure from the Executive branch to ignore the rule of law and side with the government, regardless of the evidence. 

There is a consensus both inside and outside Zimbabwe that the post-coup regime is not a democracy any more.

In the wake of the coup, it is impossible not to see that the country is being driven off a cliff as there is no independent judiciary; basic human rights like right of assembly, are constantly violated with soldiers killing unarmed civilians in the streets, the media barred from attending a news conference of the biggest opposition leader in the country.

There is rampant fear and oppression, the capital city’s central business district is being patrolled by soldiers with apparent discord between the securocracy and the bureaucracy and the country gradually becoming introverted and buried in its darkness.

Everybody sees it.

Comments (8)

l agree entirely with the notion that Zimbabwe not a democratic country. With what l have witness the military rule countinues and indeed as a legal practitioner l can confirm that our courts, just like Zimbabwe electoral commission are just but a subdivision of ZANU PF and however meritorous the claim is Chamisa will lose.

blessed - 8 August 2018

@ Staff Writer - "But we never had a major party candidate far in advance of an election saying that the only legitimate outcome is only his own victory like what Chamisa said" You just nailed it there and there but you got lost and confused as you moved on. If I may add, can you give, just one country where you believe there is true democracy. Where losers in an election dont complain about being cheated? @blessed - put on your legal hat and take off your mdc one. You dont prejudge a case before you hear it. Let MDC present evidence and the court of public opinion will decide. Right now there is nothing, zero, zilch. Forewarning...dont even say I am zanu person. I am not period. Its a common argument with mdc surrogates. No facts, just accusing people who disagree with them as zanu stooges

Qiniso - 8 August 2018

Well put Qiniso. The real losers will be the people of Zimbabwe as the stalemate continues. The MDC should consider the common good for the better of the man in the street. Zanu PF will not relinquish the throne easily. The opposition should strategically plan and prepare for the 2023 elections (God willing). They should find creative ways of engaging rural voters to gain ground in those areas. Most importantly a significant portion of the nation will support Zanu PF, the others the opposition. What is important is to agree to disagree, rise above partisan politics and rebuild the nation. So called western democracies took centuries to work out their governance and democracy. Hillary Clinton won the "popular"(sic!?) vote in a disputed election but Trump is in the White House. The Democrats are regrouping and preparing for the next election. The Zimbabwean nation is far more important than individuals. Future generations deserve better. One can chose to be right and still be wrong. Zimbabwe desperately needs peace, tolerance, forgiveness, national healing for us to overcome our economic challenges. Finger pointing, witch hunting, violence, repression, hatred, bitterness, arrogance and pride will fan the flames further and worsen our ostracisation by foreign investors and the global community. We cannot afford to continue being a pariah state!!!!! God bless Zimbabwe.

Daniel 5 - 9 August 2018

I totally disagree. Chamisa must pursue the vote challenge through the courts. This is a great way to get the facts or evidence across and the jury to make a decision. it will have five immediate results 1) make ED legitimate if evidence does not stand to scrutiny 2) make Chamisa the winner if the evidence stands 3) it will uplift the standing of the judiciary 4) it will make it necessary to have a reformed, impartial ZEC for any credible future elections 5) it will enhance the country's democracy. Anything less simply throws all our national aspirations and gains into the bin. IMHO this challenge is a do or die for the country.

Sagitarr - 9 August 2018

Good reasoning @ Sagitarr, Going to court will change our future

tk - 9 August 2018

Courts and wailing and wailing is just a waste of time and money. Zimbos amaze lots. For how long has this been happening. These MDC guys are just lunatics who do not learn. These courts are going to cost them and then they will come out with begging bowls to the suffering masses who are vulnerable. These guys should just give up and let a new opposition party come in coz they have totally failed.

Gwenaz - 9 August 2018

think legally Chamisa is right but the merits of his argument leave a lot to be desired . This one is a lost battle , he must just forget about the result and move on, start preparing for 2023 by attending to the restructuring exercise in his party. MDC Alliance should take the tranquility enjoyed in the country to come up with structures in all rural areas ,for easy coordination of its programmes .

walter - 10 August 2018

all those who are saying Chamisa is wrong in going to the courts are right but they are wrong because they are the only people benefiting from this EDious ZEC stole our future ironically comic pastor summed up our challenge when he suggested to have saomora matchel street closed to pave way for vendorsin short ZANU ne ZEC zvakaora imbavha

johngorowa - 13 August 2018

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