Zimbabwe: Petition Hearing Set for August 22

Photo: ZBC
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Chairperson Priscilla Chigumba.
17 August 2018

The Constitutional Court will next Wednesday hear the case in which MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa is contesting President Mnangagwa's victory in the July 30 presidential election.

President Mnangagwa won the election with 50,8 percent of the total vote, with Mr Chamisa garnering 44,3 percent.

Mr Chamisa last Friday filed an application at the Constitutional Court, alleging that the official results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) that declared President Mnangagwa the winner were not credible.

Lawyers for the cited parties yesterday attended a case management meeting in Chief Justice Luke Malaba's chambers where the hearing date was set for next Wednesday.

The parties also agreed on the timelines and how the matter should proceed to ensure quality justice within the permissible 14-day period.

Lawyers who attended the meeting confirmed that Chief Justice Malaba directed Mr Chamisa's lawyers to file an answering affidavit and heads of argument by 12 noon tomorrow.

According to the lawyers, President Mnangagwa's lawyers were given up to 10am on Monday to file the respondent's heads of argument.

After all the papers are filed, the nine-member bench will hear and determine the election challenge on Wednesday morning.

In the petition, Mr Chamisa alleges electoral fraud and malpractices during the elections in which zanu-pf romped to victory, claiming two-thirds parliamentary majority, with President Mnangagwa taking a 6,5 percent lead.

Mr Chamisa is seeking the nullification of President Mnangagwa's victory and wants the court to declare him the winner.

He claimed the election was not conducted in accordance with the law and was not "free and fair".

"The election results announced by the Commissioners of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission on 2 August 2018 and the concomitant declaration of that same date by its chairperson to the effect that Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa was to be regarded as the duly elected President of the Republic of Zimbabwe with effect from the 2nd of August 2018 is in terms of section 93(4)(b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe as read together with section 111(2)(b) of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13) declared unlawful, of no force or effect and accordingly set aside," read part of the order sought.

Mr Chamisa wants the chief elections officer compelled to publish in the Government Gazette the order and the declaration of the election of Mr Chamisa to the office of the President of Zimbabwe.

Mr Chamisa disputed the results, alleging the elections were engineered to rob him victory.

President Mnangagwa along with the other 21 losing presidential candidates and ZEC were all cited as respondents in the high-profile petition.

In his response filed on Wednesday, President Mnangagwa argued that there was no valid election petition challenging his victory. He raised several preliminary objections to the petition.

The President wants the highest court in the land to dismiss the petition and confirm him the winner of the presidential poll held on July 30.

"The applicant has not placed before the court any evidence of irregularities which warrant the setting aside of the declaration made by the 23rd respondent (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba) that I won the elections," said President Mnangagwa.

He said a dismissal order was appropriate given the fact that the petition was plagued with flagrant procedural irregularities.

"It was lodged out of time," said President Mnangagwa. "Even then, it is wanting in respect of the addresses of 19 out of 25 respondents. No proof of service was filed with the registrar of the court within 48 hours as required by the (court) rules."

President Mnangagwa said the application was not served with all documents that Mr Chamisa claimed to have filed.

"This host of irregularities is fatal to the application," he said.

President Mnangagwa further argued that the intention by Mr Chamisa's lawyers to issue out a subpoena against Justice Chigumba, shows the MDC Alliance leader accepted the inadequacies of his evidence.

In this regard, the President said the proper course of action which the court must adopt is to accept Mr Chamisa's admission and throw out the application.

President Mnangagwa contends that Mr Chamisa's petition is premised on alleged mathematical anomalies which have no factual basis.

He pointed out that Mr Chamisa did not make the application to set aside the presidential results in good faith, but simply wanted to delay his inauguration as the duly elected President of the country and to make political statements in court.

"This is apparent from the fact that the application does not comply with the rules of the court and constitution," he said.

"The court must see through this stratagem and dismiss the application."

President Mnangagwa urged the court to censure Mr Chamisa for the gross childish manner in which he prosecuted his application.

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