ConCourt showdown as ruling is set for tomorrow 

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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.