ED swearing-in on Sunday

HARARE - President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa will be sworn in on Sunday in line with the country’s laws, which require a presidential poll winner to take oath of office within 48 hours after the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) has announced its decision on an election challenge.

Chamisa had challenged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s declaration that Mnangagwa won the polls, arguing that the election management body had colluded with the Zanu PF presidential candidate to manipulate the results in his favour.

The case was, however, thrown out yesterday by a nine-member Con-Court bench led by Justice Luke Malaba—setting the stage for Mnangagwa’s inauguration which had been delayed by the court challenge.

Mnangagwa’s inauguration ceremony had been scheduled for last week, but had to be aborted after Chamisa successfully filed his petition last Friday.

In terms of the Constitution, once a petition challenging the election has been filed with the Con-Court, the president cannot assume office until the Con-Court makes a conclusion.

According to the Constitution, “if a petition is lodged challenging the validity of the presidential election, the president-elect’s swearing-in will then have to take place 48 hours after the Constitutional Court has announced its decision on the challenge”.

With the case dismissed, the development opens the way for Mnangagwa to be sworn in as president for a five-year term.

Had the court set Mnangagwa’s victory aside,  a presidential re-run between  the two protagonists would have ensued  in line with the dictates  of the law.

Mnangagwa took over after a military intervention in November 2017 resulted in the resignation of 93-year-old president Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years.

Mnangagwa, who has promised to revive the country’s ruined economy, had vowed that the vote would be free and fair amid hopes that it would open up a stream of foreign investment and aid.

Campaigning was more open than previous votes, but the election was marred by violence and a crackdown on opposition activists.

On August 1, clashes broke out in central Harare between security forces and opposition supporters.

At least six protesters died after soldiers opened fire, in a response the opposition alliance called “disproportionate and unjustified”.

“Praetorian politics will continue to define the political landscape and this is unsettling because the presence of the military on the foreground of our politics is likely to result in repression and plunder as evidenced by the killing of unarmed civilians,” Michael Choto, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera.

He called for the disbanding of “the patronage and corruption network that has characterised our country’s politics for the last 38 years.”

In the parliamentary elections, also held on July 30, Zanu PF secured a clear majority by winning 145 seats in the 210-strong Parliament.

The MDC Alliance came second with 63.

The ruling party, which has been in power since independence in 1980, has ruled out any form of political alliance with the opposition.

Some analysts said a coalition would ease political tensions in the country.

“This would be first prize and would solve a lot of problems but is highly unlikely given the extreme polarisation which has actually been worsened by the court case and the post-election killings,” Will Mbanga, an analyst said.

“The winner-takes-all attitude will be disastrous but I fear that is what will happen. Although I hope Mnangagwa is pragmatic enough to see that would be counter-productive,” he added. Choto said the MDC, which has historically been ZANU PF’s biggest challenger, “should regroup, re-evaluate ... and reshape” its strategy with a focus on ensuring victory in the 2023 elections.

“Nelson Chamisa has time on his hands,” he said.

“He has the changing demography of Zimbabwe on his side, he should not allow himself and the alliance to be swallowed, to legitimise a military government that has come to power not through the ballot but by the barrel of a gun.”

— Additional reporting by Aljazeera

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