BERNARD MPOFU/CHENGETAI ZVAUYA
THE Constitutional Court yesterday reserved its judgment to Friday afternoon for a case in which MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa is challenging incumbent president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory in last month’s presidential election.
Zimbabwe went for its first election without long-time leader Robert Mugabe who resigned last November.
A record 23 presidential hopefuls participated in the poll. Mnangagwa got 50,67 percent of the vote while Chamisa received 44,3 percent.
The build-up to the much-anticipated case had been characterised by social media trolls, posturing, threats and counter-threats as parties attempted to influence the court outcome.
All this while, the economy continues to bleed as most investors have adopted a wait and see attitude.
In the absence of a substantive president, there has not been much activity in government and in the economy. The sentiment currently obtaining is being mirrored through the local stock market, whose trades have generally been roving in near flat territory since July 30, 2018. The All Share index on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange lost a marginal 0.02 points (0.02 percent) yesterday to settle at 112.84.
Zimbabwe’s economy which is mainly anchored on agriculture has also suffered as government’s main import substitution programme known as the Command Agriculture Scheme’s inputs distribution programme will not be completed by month end as initially planned.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe John Mangudya who had initially scheduled to give his monetary policy statement in early August has been forced to reschedule while the delivery of Treasury’s mid-term budget review will now have to wait for the appointment of a new Cabinet minister.
All eyes are now set on the constitutional court challenge.
Presiding over the historic court challenge in the capital, Chief Justice Luke Malaba flanked by eight other Constitutional Court judges said a ruling into the contentious issue in which the MDC-Alliance alleges electoral fraud would be made by 2pm on Friday.
Should the country’s highest court uphold Mnangagwa’s victory inauguration should take place on Sunday or Zimbabwe could be heading for a re-run amid escalating political tension. The court’s decision cannot be appealed.
Chamisa through his lawyers Thabani Mpofu and Silvester Hashiti argued that the electoral process was fraught with irregularities which resulted in their client being denied electoral victory.
They cited lack of transparency over the postal vote, polling stations with identical results, residual votes, assisted voters, ghost polling stations, a large number of teachers seconded at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission being disfranchised among other heads of argument.
Mnangagwa defence counsel led by Lewis Uriri and Thembinkosi Magwaliba dismissed the arguments raised by the applicant’s lawyers saying they were backed by concrete evidence.
Uriri said that the electoral figures that were being raised Advocate Thabani Mpofu, representing Chamisa were not correct as they had no evidence to back up their argument as they had not bothered to check on the primary source of the ballot papers.
“The applicant relies on evidence he got somewhere we don’t know and not before this court. He must bring physical evidence to prove the allegations he is making. He did not want the ballot box to be unsealed to check on the votes polled for him to come up with the correct details,” said Uriri.
ZEC legal representative Tawanda Kanengoni also took to the dock as he attempted to shred submissions made by Chamisa’s lawyers.
Kanengoni said they was no evidence to support that the MDC Alliance claim that over 40 000 civil servants were defranchised by ZEC and did not vote and in the event that they had voted they were all going to vote for Chamisa.
“The applicant mentions of 40 000 civil servants being disfranchised but he has not shown to the court whether they are registered and what percentage was going to be voting for the applicant,” said Kanengoni.
Malaba queried on why the applicant did not place before the court original documents and ballot boxes and that could have allayed these electoral disputes and rather than to place the secondary evidence before the courts.
“Why did the applicants lawyers not make any court application seeking to be allowed to have access to the residue evidence in the ballot boxes rather than to rely on the figures from own his polling agents and expert without getting it from Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,” said Malaba.
Mpofu said that ZEC had made three official statements on the final presidential results and this was confirmation on their part that they did not have the correct figures of the results.
“The position we have is that we don’t have the official presidential elections results as ZEC has made three announcements. Who verified the third set of results as we are having parliamentary results not tallying with the presidential results,” said Mpofu.
“Once we knock off 31 000 votes to the presidential results 0,65 percent figures of the 50 plus one threshold will fall off. ZEC admits to making errors in calculations and their declaration is based on wrong results.”
Uriri argued that they did not know where the applicant was getting their information on the data because they had made analyses on the results and did not get their data from ZEC who are the custodians all the elections statistics.