Mixed reactions to Con-Court ruling

HARARE - Zimbabwe's Constitutional Court (Con-Court) yesterday dismissed the petition filed by opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, challenging the results of the July 30 presidential election, thereby confirming Emmerson Mnangagwa as the winner of the poll.

The Daily News caught up with a number of political analysts who called on the president to keep his promise of uniting the nation by including intellectuals outside his Zanu PF party who can help turn around the country’s fortunes.

Political analyst Piers Pigou said the MDC Alliance’s response to the verdict will be greeted with a certain sense of relief by those who were anxious that they would raise political temperatures by refusing to accept the ruling.

“They have correctly decided to focus on working through constitutional channels and have an important role to play in working to strengthening adherence to constitutionalism. They also have a critical role in monitoring and giving substance to Mnangagwa’s re-engagement, reform and recovery strategy that has taken a major legitimacy knock around aspects of the elections but especially in its aftermath.

“There is a long and arduous road ahead to build momentum and there are many nervous and recalcitrant elements within the State and Zanu PF who fear the president’s reform programme. If truly genuine, these much-needed changes will continue to breed much uncertainty. Zimbabwe is a very long way from being out of the woods.”

Political analyst Tabani Moyo said the observations from the proceedings at court showed beyond doubt that the bench was antagonistic to the opposition.

“That’s why in his ruling the Chief Justice did not concede anything from the opposition lawyers. This is sad for the progression of the nation. People are generally supposed to have faith in justice and the law. For this to happen there must be a perception that the law works.

“In this regard, the Chief Justice did not even concede to the electoral malpractices by the electoral administration body, which in itself weakens the running of future elections. That said, the legal outcomes do not sublimate into legitimacy.

“The most fortunate thing to happen is that the proceedings where conducted live, in full public glare, thanks to media lobby and advocacy, hence the public opinion defines legitimacy.

“While the Con-Court ruling is final, it has to be noted that it does not in any way resolve the legitimacy and constitutional crisis in Zimbabwe. It is unfortunate that despite evidence of vote rigging, the apex court used its own yardstick to measure the credibility of the July 30 polls,” said Moyo.

Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said: “Legality that negates the will of the people does not result in legitimacy. The fact remains that Mnangagwa’s win was razor thin and fraught with malpractices by Zec. The future of Zimbabwe has been nailed on the cross of political expediency. The new government must therefore do more to unite society and also demonstrate that they can deliver not only on the economy but on our rights.”

Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the verdict has confirmed the obvious after the hearing where the applicant did not provide required primary evidence.

“The court even after noting technicalities chose not to throw away the case in the public interest and also knowing that all eyes of the World were on the court after the killing of seven Zimbabwean on August 1.

“I am not a lawyer, but based on my experience with elections there is no doubt that this poll was rigged if you look at pre-election issues and the questions around counting and tabulation, but the Alliance opted not to provide primary evidence for their case.

“Alliance knew they were working with a captured court and captured Zec, but did not do enough to plug all holes before going to court.

“There are also a lot of lessons from 2013 where the MDC did not have all V11 forms as they did not field party agents at all polling stations. They did not learn from this 2013 lesson.

“To me it’s a case where Chamisa had all the support to win but he did not do enough to safeguard the vote in terms of organisation before, during and after elections.

“It’s a tough lesson to the opposition for 2023. They have to be prepared in all aspects including organisation if they are to unseat a despotic regime that has captured state institutions. There is nothing new here. We said it before. I feel sorry for the people of Zimbabwe who were taken for granted by overzealous disjointed opposition parties that lacked organisation and a despotic regime that captures institutions. It’s sad the bench did not rebuke Zec for all bungling.”

Saungweme said Mnangagwa needs to appoint a bi-partisan cabinet with talent from both ruling and opposition parties with a mix of experience and young blood.

“There are a lot of young, vibrant and skilled MDC Alliance MP elects. He also needs to look out beyond political parties for talent from those in leadership positions in business, media and NGOs sector.

“We have a lot of talented Zimbabweans running institutions and business in and outside Zimbabwe. He needs to appoint a lean cabinet, not more than 16 ministers and no deputies as a clear way of dealing with redundancy both in cabinet and the civil service at large. He needs an austerity cabinet,” he said.

Presidential losing candidate Harry Peter Wilson said he congratulates the president but reminded him that for this country to move forward he (Mnangagwa) has to include Chamisa in his government.

“The president has to include not only Chamisa in his government but other independent intellectuals and some from the opposition. Mnangagwa is on record saying we are one nation and we will be watching to see how he wants to unite Zimbabweans.

“He has to respect the will of the people because the will of the people has not been adhered to – there is a lot that Zec did wrong and while Chamisa could not prove it the way the courts wanted, but still the people are very suspicious.”

Wilson said the opposition has to start preparing for the 2023 elections. “We have to start working for the next coming harmonised elections and five years is not even enough to do all we want but there is time to cover a lot of ground.

“This election is a done deal, the future is what Chamisa and the opposition should look at. We do not have to wait until 2022 to start running around – it has to be now. The opposition has a lot of work ahead.”

The Democratic Opposition Party (DOP) leader called on Mnangagwa to work hard so that people start believing in him. “We are stuck with him for the next five years, so he has to deliver and remember there is the issue of US sanctions, he has to work with every concerned Zimbabwean to unbundle them,” said Wilson.

ZimRights director Okay Machisa said: “To the winner, Mnangagwa I pray that there is a spirit of uniting the divided nation. Stop the suffering of people by ensuring that the bread and butter issues have been addressed. Political will to observe rule of law, human rights and democracy. To the loser, Chamisa I pray that let this be the beginning of building Zimbabwe through genuine political engagement and national cohesion.”

In a joint statement on Constitutional Court decision the European Union Delegation, the Heads of Mission of EU Member States present in Harare and the Head of Mission of Switzerland said “It is important that everyone respects the Zimbabwean Constitution and the rule of law. Acknowledging the verdict of Zimbabwe’s highest court, all stakeholders should call for calm and restraint in both victory and defeat.

“The recent increase in politically-motivated human rights violations, including some acts of post-electoral retribution, is unacceptable.

“All cases need to be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. The fundamental rights of all citizens need to be respected and the physical integrity and safety of the victims and witnesses protected.

“The electoral process revealed improvements as well as challenges. A truly inclusive approach is the key to designing and implementing reforms that stand the test of time. It is important that the new government engages all stakeholders in substantive discussions on the necessary reforms, including on further electoral reforms.

“The Heads of Mission stand ready to continue to work with Zimbabwe to foster democracy to the benefit of all its citizens.”

Comments (1)

The bulk of Zimbabwean law and the administrative framework is based on Roman-Dutch and English laws which are colonial and meant to exploit the people. The justice, equity and empowerment issues provided for in the Constitution will never be realized until our laws are aligned to the constitution. In South Africa it is Malema and the EFF challenging the apartheid laws. and the re-alignment.

ADF - 25 August 2018

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