HARARE – In an early setback for opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) yesterday completely removed submissions by losing presidential candidates in the July 30 elections who had filed papers in support of his claims that the vote was rigged by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
After hearing preliminary arguments, the full Con-Court bench led by the Chief Justice Luke Malaba, ruled against the losing candidates — Noah Manyika and Daniel Shumba — who, like Chamisa, accused Zec of manipulating the election result in favour of President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Malaba said the Con-Court would explain in detail its reasons for expunging Shumba and Manyika’s submissions in its full judgment.
Manyika’s lawyer, Gina Mabwe, had argued that her client although not supporting Chamisa’s case, was not bringing new evidence and that his submissions should be accepted.
Malaba questioned why, if Manyika was aggrieved, he did not make his own application to the court within seven days since he was also a candidate.
Another respondent, Elton Mangoma opposed Chamisa’s application by claiming the youthful MDC Alliance leader did not garner enough votes to beat Mnangagwa.
Chamisa filed his court challenge against Mnangagwa’s hotly-disputed victory in the July 30 election on August 10 — thereby suspending the latter’s planned inauguration which was due a day before the Heroes Day holiday.
In essence, Chamisa’s court application seeks to either have the presidential election declared as null and void, or for him to be affirmed as the rightful winner of the poll. Alternatively, the MDC Alliance leader wants a fresh presidential race to be held.
In the disputed presidential vote, Mnangagwa narrowly avoided a run-off after polling 50,8 percent of the ballot against Chamisa’s 44,3 percent.
Zec has since revised Mnangagwa’s victory to 50,6 percent.
In determining the petition, the Con-Court may declare a winner or invalidate the election — in which case a fresh election will have to be held within 60 days after the determination. If it upholds the election result, Mnangagwa will be sworn in within 48 hours of the decision.
The court case comes after Zimbabwe held its first ever post-independence elections three weeks ago without 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 July 30 elections, to choose both a new Parliament and president — following the dramatic fall from power of Mugabe.
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 a clash between opposition supporters and security agents.
At least six people subsequently died when the army used live ammunition to break the ugly protests,