Court upholds ED poll victory

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa, will finally be sworn in tomorrow after the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) unanimously upheld his July 30 election victory yesterday and threw out opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s petition that had sought to overturn the result.

The landmark ruling by Zimbabwe’s highest court brought to an end weeks of uncertainty and anxiety in the country, which followed Zec’s announcement on August 3 that Mnangagwa had pipped Chamisa in the closely-contested presidential plebiscite.

Upon receiving the court’s verdict, Mnangagwa was quick to call for peace and unity in the country, and to reach out to Chamisa via his Twitter account.

“We were not surprised by the court’s decision. The election results were firmly in line with all the pre-election polling, and were entirely consistent with the final tally of Zesn (Zimbabwe Election Support Network), the largest body of independent observers.

“I once again reiterate my call for peace and unity above all. Nelson Chamisa, my door is open and my arms are outstretched, we are one nation, and we must put our nation first.

“Let us all now put our differences behind us. It is time to move forward together,” the jubilant Mnangagwa said.

The nine Con-Court judges — led by Chief Justice Luke Malaba — had ruled earlier that the youthful MDC Alliance leader had failed to prove that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) had fiddled with the July 30 poll in favour of Mnangagwa.

“In the final analysis, the court finds that the applicant (Chamisa) has failed to supply clear, sufficient … evidence. There was no proof of the happenings of the irregularities (that were alleged) as a matter of fact.

“An applicant must prove that an election is fundamentally flawed and was not done in terms of the law.

“Therefore … the application is to be dismissed with costs and in terms of Section 93 … Mnangagwa is duly declared the winner of the presidential election held on 30 July 2018,” Malaba said to the relief of Zanu PF supporters.

He also said because of the lack of sufficient evidence, there was no purpose for the court to enquire if the irregularities that have been alleged materially affected the outcome of the elections.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Chamisa’s lawyer Thabani Mpofu had argued strongly that the election had allegedly been marred by serious irregularities that he said effectively delegitimised the whole process.

He also argued that Zec had supplied results to the court which were different from the original ones that it had announced when it declared Mnangagwa the winner of the poll.

“Zec admits to making at least five errors that attack the presumption of validity. The results announced by Zec have been disowned by Zec and it has announced a third set of results. The declaration made by Zec is premised on wrong results.

“If Zec accepts that the first sets of results are wrong, they did not have the primary data to back these results,” Mpofu said then.

This was after Zec had announced that Mnangagwa had won with 50,8 percent to Chamisa’s 44,3 percent — before later revising the Zanu PF leader’s figure downwards to 50,6 percent.

The national elections management body said in court that the adjustment was done as a result of “a few mathematical errors” but that this was inconsequential as it didn’t affect Mnangagwa’s result.

To this end, the Con-Court ruled yesterday that although Zec had admitted to making errors, “they were of little effect as its declaration was final”.

“It’s important to understand, declaration of a winner and any votes after that have no bearing on the result of the election. The amendment by Zec has no effect on the declaration.

“The applicant in our view needed more evidence than the mere admission by Zec,” Malaba said.

The Chief Justice also said the onus and burden of proof lay with Chamisa whose application to the Con-Court ruled was based on general allegations.

He further said Chamisa should have asked for the unsealing of ballot boxes, whose figures — juxtaposed with information reflected on V11 forms — would have constituted primary evidence.

Malaba said the primary evidence would have assisted the Con-Court immensely in coming up with an informed decision.

Zimbabwe held its first ever post-independence elections late last month without the deposed Robert Mugabe — who resigned from office in November last year on the back of a military intervention.

Millions of Zimbabweans cast their vote in the historic elections to choose both a new Parliament and president — following Mugabe’s dramatic fall from power.

The elections also marked the first time that the main opposition MDC was not represented by its founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who lost his brave battle with cancer of the colon on Valentine’s Day this year.

Zanu PF retained its two thirds parliamentary majority in the plebiscite.

However, the peaceful campaigns and a camaraderie spirit that had characterised the run-up to the elections were sullied in the aftermath of the polls when deadly violence broke out in Harare’s central business district (CBD), following clashes between opposition supporters and security agents.

At least six people subsequently died when the army used live ammunition to break up the ugly protests.

Meanwhile, political analysts and the international community have urged Mnangagwa to heal the rift caused by the fallout from the elections by extending an olive branch to Chamisa and his colleagues in the opposition.

Constitutional Law expert and former adviser to Tsvangirai, Alex Magaisa — who teaches law in the United Kingdom — told the Daily News ahead of yesterday’s Con-Court ruling, that Zimbabwe had been further divided by the elections and now needed a leader who was Alice to the big picture.

“The most important issue in this electoral process is legitimacy which comes from acceptance of the process, the outcome and the resulting political authority. This was a hard-fought election which confirmed the deep divisions in our country.

“Unfortunately, our electoral system is a winner takes-all system which pleases the victor and excludes those who would have lost and because of deep-seated disputes over elections it causes a lot of animosity. These divisions must be healed,” he said.

“The challenge for the victor is to be able to cater for the interests of all — their supporters and the opponents.

“At the end of the day, it is important to understand that we are in a long transition and that in this transition there are good and bad things.

“We have to be able to eliminate the bad things while steering the country towards progress in a peaceful and democratic environment.

“Much will depend on the political leadership and its ability to see the bigger picture,” Magaisa told the Daily News.

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