Govt vetting Chamisa's expat lawyers'

HARARE - Government is vetting applications made by MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s specialised attorneys hired to help him in the Constitutional Court challenge against President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa’s poll victory.

A top South African advocate has been drafted into Chamisa’s legal team to fight the opposition party’s Con-Court challenge to be heard tomorrow.

Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett, who was the lawyer for South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela, joins Chamisa’s backroom strategists, with his lead advocate Thabani Mpofu heading into the Con-Court today.

The Con-Court challenge came after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) declared Mnangagwa winner of the just-ended July 30 elections with 50,8 percent of the vote ahead of Chamisa who managed 44,3 percent.

Chamisa’s legal team of local attorneys, being led by Mpofu already has two top legal minds from the neighbouring country that include advocates Tembeka Ngcukaitobi and Dali Mpofu.

The addition of Gauntlett significantly reinforces the team.

Gauntlett, co-author of Bar, Bench & Bullshifters: Cape Tales 1950-1990, was Mandela’s legal advisor and worked for luminaries such as Desmond Tutu and Chief Albert Luthuli, as well as the Biko family. He also helped pen South Africa’s first democratic Constitution.

Gauntlett also helped South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma get off the hook and stitched a deal to have him repay State money spent on non-security upgrades to his private residence in Nkandla, after a scandal over lavish improvements including a swimming pool and amphitheatre.

Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told the Daily News yesterday that three top South African advocates had officially applied for authority to work in the country and that he was processing their paperwork.

“They made their application on Friday afternoon after I had left the office so I only managed to look at them this morning (yesterday) and I have since tasked people to consider their application to see if they meet the requirement before we submit them to the Law Society of Zimbabwe,” Ziyambi said.

Ziyambi, however, complained that the lawyers had made their application late “yet they immediately ran to you (media) as if they had long applied and we were sitting on their papers”.

This comes as the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) is also sending eminent African jurists to observe the Con-Court poll challenge.

A delegation consisting of African Judges and Jurists Forum (AJJF) secretary general Martin Masiga (Uganda) with retired chief justice Earnest Sakala (Zambia) and Justice Isaac Lenaola (Supreme Court of Kenya) is expected to arrive in the country for the hearing. ICJ African regional programme director Arnold Tsunga confirmed the development saying “it is the African judges and Jurists Forum that is the lead organisation.”

The ICJ also observed Kenya’s disputed poll challenge last year, which ended with the apex court of that country ordering fresh elections.

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