Zanu-PF files opposing papers to MDC Alliance election challenge

Zimbabwe president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa has defended the landmark election in which he was declared victorious, despite claims from the opposition of vote rigging.
Zimbabwe president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa has defended the landmark election in which he was declared victorious, despite claims from the opposition of vote rigging.
Image: AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI

Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF on Wednesday filed its opposing papers to the court challenge to the presidential election results brought by the opposition MDC Alliance last week.

The MDC Alliance’s court challenge has resulted in the cancellation of the inauguration ceremony for President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Paul Mangwana‚ the Zanu-PF secretary for legal affairs and head of the party’s legal team‚ on Wednesday said the petition filed by the MDC Alliance “lacked merit”.

“It is based on some theoretical calculations by some statistician whose qualification we doubt a lot. The elections are not won in court but in the ballot. They have not even asked for the ballot boxes to be re-opened and recounted‚” said Mangwana.

“The election material is there for everyone to see. Nelson Chamisa was beaten thoroughly and effectively‚ so there is no basis or any grounds for challenging the victory of President Mnangagwa. Broadly‚ that is the thrust we are taking in opposing the application.”

As part of its legal team‚ the MDC Alliance has roped in two top legal minds from SA‚ advocates Dali Mpofu and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi‚ to represent it.

“The case looks solid‚ based on the facts at our disposal at this stage‚” said Ngcukaitobi.

“We shall wait to see what the ZEC [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] brings up by way of its defence.”

Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court has 14 days to make a final ruling on the hotly disputed election. Its ruling is final and cannot be contested any further. A full bench of nine judges‚ led by Chief Justice Luke Malaba‚ is expected to make a decision on the court challenge.

Legal watchdogs believe the highest court in the land has several options. It could declare the election to be invalid‚ 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. The court could also order a run-off vote‚ if it finds that none of the candidates reached the 50%-plus-one vote threshold.

The evidence that the MDC Alliance intends to present to the court includes eyewitness accounts‚ videos of unsealed ballot boxes being taken to unknown locations‚ and alleged proof that V11 forms - posted outside a polling station to show the results when vote-counting finishes - were manipulated.

In 2013‚ the late Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai approached the Constitutional Court seeking to overturn the electoral victory of former president Robert Mugabe. Before the case was heard‚ however‚ Tsvangirai sought to withdraw the case‚ which the court refused.

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