Let's put elections behind us and work at fixing our economy‚ Mnangagwa urges in Heroes’ Day address

Emmerson Mnangagwa looks on after laying wreaths during the national 38th Heroes Day Commemorations at the Heroes Acre in Harare, Zimbabwe on August 13 2018.
Emmerson Mnangagwa looks on after laying wreaths during the national 38th Heroes Day Commemorations at the Heroes Acre in Harare, Zimbabwe on August 13 2018.
Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa presided over Heroes’ Day celebrations in Harare on Monday and urged the nation to “put the election period behind us” and work together to fix the country’s economy.

“The time for politics is over. It’s now time for action‚ production and service delivery. We are a bold and brave nation of warriors and so let us therefore march forward in peace‚ harmony and love‚” said Mnangagwa in his address delivered at the Heroes’ Acre shrine.

He also reiterated his position that the MDC Alliance was responsible for the post-election violence that took place in central Harare on August 1. Six people died after the army opened fire on protesters.

“We condemn the MDC Alliance inspired violence post our free and fair elections which resulted in the deaths of our innocent citizens. I’m instituting a commission of inquiry to investigate the matter‚” he said.

“It is now time to put the elections period behind us and embrace the future. The task facing us today is a great one‚ let us unite as Zimbabweans‚ revive our economy and rebuild our great nation.”

Mnangagwa’s win in the July 30 poll is being contested by Nelson Chamisa‚ leader of the MDC Alliance. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared Mnangagwa the winner of the election with 50.8% of the votes to Chamisa’s 44.3%.

Chamisa filed a court challenge at the Constitutional Court on Friday last week. He wants the court to overturn Mnangagwa’s win and declare him the winner of the election.

The court is likely to start focusing on the challenge on Wednesday‚ as Monday and Tuesday are public holidays in Zimbabwe. The country commemorates Defence Forces’ Day on Tuesday.

The ruling Zanu-PF is expected to file its opposing papers after the holidays. Its legal representatives had made their way to the Constitutional Court earlier in the day in the hope of filing their opposing papers — but found the premises closed.

State media at the weekend gave a hint of the ruling party’s course in challenging the MDC Alliance’s application. It wants the case thrown out on technicalities‚ according to Paul Mangwana‚ the Zanu-PF secretary for legal affairs.

A full bench of nine judges led by Chief Justice Luke Malaba is expected to hear the MDC Alliance application.

The registrar of the court is expected to set down the matter for determination within 14 days of the filing of the application. The court’s decision‚ which can be made within that time or anytime thereafter‚ is final and cannot be contested any further.

Gwinyayi Dzinesa‚ a peace and security researcher‚ said the MDC Alliance's presidential election petition presents an ultimate test case for the impartiality of Zimbabwe's judiciary and was a polarising matter among election stakeholders.

“Some observers noted the fact the Chief Justice‚ Deputy Chief Justice‚ and Judge President of the High Court‚ though constitutionally appointed by the president‚ have ties to the military and ruling Zanu-PF‚ which may present conflicts of interest when adjudicating the MDC Alliance's case‚” said Dzinesa.

“Others noted that the courts demonstrated some capacities during the pre-election period to act independently of political bias‚ although key decisions were reversed on appeal. For instance‚ the High Court ordered traditional leaders to be impartial. The High Court also ordered restraints on the use of schools‚ their transportation resources‚ and compelling school children to participate in Zanu-PF rallies. But the ruling was dismissed on appeal by the Supreme Court.”

Legal watchdog Veritas Zimbabwe said the Constitutional Court “can invalidate the election‚ in which case a fresh election must be held within 60 days‚ or make an order that it considers just and appropriate. This … could include a recount of votes‚ or order a run-off if the court finds that none of the candidates had 50%-plus-one vote threshold.”

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