CHENGETAI ZVAUYA

HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa has asked the Constitutional Court to reject an opposition petition to nullify last month’s presidential election result with his party roping in renowned actuary Douglas Hoto to counter the MDC-Alliance’s electoral fraud claims.

Mnangagwa yesterday filed submissions in the land’s highest court opposing a court challenge to his victory by main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa. Mnangagwa won 50,8 percent of the vote against his rival Nelson Chamisa’s 44,3 percent in the country’s first elections after the ouster of former president Robert Mugabe last November.

The opposition alliance last week approached the Constitutional Court challenging the result and the electoral process. The alliance in its papers cited inconsistencies in tallies due to double counting, unbalanced coverage of all political parties among its litany of reasons for the challenge.

The disputed election result triggered violent clashes in the capital which claimed six lives. Government blamed the MDCAlliance for fomenting violence and has undertaken to carry out an investigation into the postelection disturbances.

In bolstering its case the MDC  Alliance  hired a   technical  expert  from   Kenya    named  Dr Outmbar  Edgar Ouko to  help them to  analyse the  presidential  results. Ouko holds a doctorate in applied statistics. The opposition party said its challenge was also being supported by a record 1000 lawyers. Zanu PF, which won two thirds of the House of Assembly seats, engaged a respected team of lawyers to defend its contested election victory.

According to papers filed by advocate Lewis Uriri instructed by Dube, Manikai and Hwacha legal practitioners, the MDCAlliance’s petition should be dismissed by the court. The court has up to August 25 to make a ruling which could subsequently pave way for Mnangagwa’s inauguration.

“I therefore urge this honourable court to dismiss this application as there is no valid challenge to my election. The applicant filed the application in the manner he did with the strategic intention of inviting technical objections…,” Mnangagwa averred in his opposing affidavit.

Mnangagwa also criticised Chamisa claims that the post Mugabe administration which took power in November 2017 was unconstitutional.

“The applicant has always wanted to govern Zimbabwe at any costs,” Mnangagwa argued. “It is important to note that the applicant actively supported the military intervention and the subsequent constitutional processes which removed the former president. He was one of the people that addressed multitudes of Zimbabweans at Zimbabwe grounds on November 17 before the commencement of the impeachment proceedings against the former president.”

Court documents in our possession show that Hoto, who also serves as chairman of ZimStats and chief executive of First Mutual Holdings, described the presidential election results as accurate and reasonable. He said the margin of error was also negligible.

“I have been asked to study the report by Dr. Otumba Edgar Ouko relied upon by the applicant to relate to what he says are the mathematical aspects of the election, Hoto said in his affidavit attached to Zanu PF’s opposing papers.

“The analysis is premised on whether claims made by the expert can be of significance in terms of the Presidential election from a quantitative analysis that is based on the numbers given and adjusted for any discrepancies fully established and corroborated by irrefutable evidence. The analysis does not consider qualitative views opinions that the experts may have about mathematical issues.”

Hoto said the MDC Alliance expert relied on the information by expert that the registered voters 5 659 583 total votes cast as announced on TV by ZEC with 4 847547 voter turnout at 85,65 percent.

“The difference between alleged ZEC figures as allegedly on TV is 1 235. In the context, the nearly 5 million votes under review is not significant considering the differences between the applicant and the first respondent,” Hoto said in his founding affidavit.

“As a percentage of the registered voters, this is 0,02 percent. That difference, therefore, is not significant from a mathematical perspective.” For one to win the Presidential elections they should get 50 percent of the votes plus one and according to ZEC’s published results, Mnangagwa avoided a run-off by 31 380 votes.

“We can use 4 846 312 as the figures for the total votes. This is because this figure gives a lower difference between the applicant and the respondent. The minimum number of votes required to win is thus (4 846 312/2) +1 = 2 423 157. The declared votes for the first respondent are 2 455 559 giving a winning margin of 2 455 559- 2 423 157 =3 2402. The votes for the applicant as declared are 2 15 1620 and they are the short by 2 455 559-2 151 620=303 939,” he said.

Hoto said the expert claims that ZEC announced a voter turnout of 72 percent or 4 032 000 without providing any evidence.

“From the above we can safely assume that this is false,” he averred.

On alleged double counting of some polling stations and difference polling stations with identical numbers, Hoto said if true, it should be adjusted for.

Hoto said total votes with alleged discrepancies as pointed by the expert were 4 774 939 while total votes per ZEC were 4 774 878 giving a difference of 61.

“This is a difference of 61 votes in about 4,8 million. This is referred to as quest for spurious accuracy. Needless to say it’s all insignificant,” Hoto said.

He said the evidence given by the expert, when analysed, only serves to confirm that the results are reasonable.

On alleged voting behaviour anomalies, where MDC Alliance claim there were outlier polling stations in certain areas to suggest manipulation, Hoto says the qualititative aspects were not clear. In fact from the four constituencies chosen; Kadoma Central, Chipinge Central, Muzvezve and Gokwe Mupfungautsi, only two polling stations showed anomalies out of the 25. “The number of votes at the polling stations is too small to be significant and therefore the error of margin is under 1 percent.”

According to Ouko’s analysis official results announced by ZEC differ markedly from the results that were published by 4 904 votes. He also says that double counting in Rushinga and Mbire resulted in an additional 7 703 votes.