via Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai drops court challenge to Mugabe’s election win – Telegraph By Aislinn Laing, Johannesburg10:18PM BST
Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, has abandoned his Constitutional Court challenge to Robert Mugabe’s landslide victory in last month’s elections, saying he had been denied the polling evidence to prove his case.
Mr Tsvangirai said he made the decision with “deep regret and sadness” but explained that Mr Mugabe had deliberately sought to thwart his attempts to get a fair hearing over allegations of widespread vote rigging and intimidation.
It means the MDC has little chance now to challenge the result, which saw the 89-year-old incumbent defeat Mr Tsvangirai by 61 per cent to 34, and paves the way for Mr Mugabe to be inaugurated for his seventh presidential term.
Mr Tsvangirai can still appeal to the Southern African Development Community, which is meeting in Malawi this weekend. However, Jacob Zuma, the South African president and regional mediator in Zimbabwe, has already offered “profound congratulations” to Mr Mugabe for his victory and urged all parties to accept the result.
Mr Tsvangirai said his path to justice was blocked by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC) refusal to provide voting material which might prove the MDC’s claims that hundreds of thousands of voters were turned away and the voters’ roll was flawed, containing at least 870,000 duplicated names.
Mr Tsvangirai claimed in court papers seen by The Telegraph that the ZEC and Mr Mugabe had been “consistently secretive” in their approach to the case and “taken a position that makes a mockery of the neutral role that they must play in these matters”.
He accused Mr Mugabe, with whom he served as prime minister in a fractious coalition government since disputed and bloody elections in 2008, of destroying his chances of a fair trial in his comments made at Monday’s Heroes Day celebrations. Mr Mugabe told the crowds that the MDC was “looking for excuses claiming they were robbed”.
“How can a robber claim he was robbed? We will never give thieves the power to rule,” he said.
Mr Tsvangirai wrote in his court application: “I am aware that he made certain unsavoury comments in which he criticised my decision to approach this court.
“The fact that the chief justice was in attendance on the day and the fact that he is expected to preside over my petition does very little to inspire my confidence in the possibility of my enjoyment of the constitutional right to a fair hearing.”
He claimed that state media, namely the Herald newspaper, had been “rubbishing my efforts in pursuing my constitutional rights”.
“For these reasons, I consider that I have no other option than to take this grave decision,” he said. “This, sadly, as far as I am concerned, entails that the Zimbabwe situation is far from resolved and on my part as the leader of my political party, I shall endeavour to use all democratic means to bring about the successful resolution of this issue.”