President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa could be inaugurated as soon as next Sunday in what is set to be an era-defining occasion that ushers in Zimbabwe’s Second Republic.
Zanu-PF’s President and First Secretary has said he will be guided by the law in respect of his swearing-in.
The President-elect won 50,8 percent of votes cast in the July 30, 2018 Presidential election.
Runner-up in that poll Mr Nelson Chamisa (MDC-Alliance) has indicated he will challenge the results in court.
According to the Constitution, the Presidential inauguration ceremony can take place nine days after announcement of election results.
Anyone unhappy with the poll outcome has seven days from declaration of the results to approach the Constitutional Court. The ConCourt then has 14 days to rule on the matter, and in the event the result is overturned, a fresh election must held within 60 days.
Addressing journalists at State House in Harare last Friday, Presidential-elect Mnangagwa said the letter and spirit of the law would prevail.
“With regards to the issue as to when the inauguration (will be), we have the Constitution and if you look in to the Constitution, it says that at the end of the pronouncement of the conclusion of the elections, the constitution gives nine days before the inauguration can take place,” he said.
“So this (Friday) morning, the plebiscite, the electoral process ended, so if you can count, you count nine days from this morning. Whatever date, after that I have the right to select the date for my inauguration.”
Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said President-elect Mnangagwa and his Cabinet would remain operative until the inauguration.
“The President and all Cabinet ministers are entitled to continue their duties as usual until the swearing in. Effectively, the President, Vice-Presidents and all ministers can execute their responsibilities until the new President is given a new mandate to appoint a new Cabinet,” he said.
“This is a legal provision that was made to ensure that there is no legal vacuum during the transition process before the swearing-in of the President.”
President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe Mr Misheck Hogwe added: “What is apparent is that from the date of the declaration of the winner, the inauguration takes place on the 9th day, assuming there isn’t a court challenge.”
Section 94 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe says: “(1) Persons elected as President and Vice-Presidents assume office when they take, before the Chief Justice or the next most senior judge available, the oaths of President and Vice-President respectively in the forms set out in the Third Schedule, which oaths they must take —
“(a) on the ninth day after they are declared to be elected; (b) in the event of a challenge to the validity of their election, within forty-eight hours after the Constitutional Court has declared them to be the winners.”
Section 93 reads: “(1) Subject to this section, any aggrieved candidate may challenge the validity of an election of a President or Vice-President by lodging a petition or application with the Constitutional Court within seven days after the date of the declaration of the results of the election.
“(2) The election of a Vice-President may be challenged only on the ground that he or she is or was not qualified for election. (3) The Constitutional Court must hear and determine a petition or application under Subsection (1) within fourteen days after the petition or application was lodged, and the court’s decision is final.”
The ConCourt can confirm the electoral declaration, nullify the result and call for another poll within 60 days, and make any other order it considers just and appropriate.
Further, Section 111 of the Electoral Act reads: “(1) An election petition complaining of an undue return or an undue election of a person to the office of President by reason of irregularity or any other cause whatsoever, may be presented to the Constitutional Court within seven days of the declaration of the result of the election in respect of which the petition is presented.”
Presidential-elect Mnangagwa polled 2 460 463 votes while Mr Chamisa got 2 147 436 votes. The other 21 Presidential hopefuls accounted for about five percent of valid voters cast.
The swearing-in will mark the historic rise of Zimbabwe’s second elected executive President.
Revered Canaan Banana served as a ceremonial President (1980-1987), after which Mr Robert Mugabe became Executive President (1987-2016).
Mr Mugabe resigned in November last year on the back of mass protests against his continued rule, his sacking as leader of Zanu-PF, and in the face of a cross-party process to impeach him and remove him as State President.
This saw President-elect Mnangagwa being selected to take over, and now he stands days away from being sworn in as the nation’s popularly elected leader and President of the Second Republic.