Zimbabwe faces an uncertain future after the country's constitutional court declared Emmerson Mnangagwa duly elected President, throwing out a petition by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, that sought to overturn the result of the poll.
The decision is final and Mnangagwa will be inaugurated on Sunday. He faces a tough challenge to get international endorsement as the aftermath of the poll was marred by violence that left six dead.
Soon after the ruling MDC Alliance secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora told journalists his party's highest decision-making organ the national council would meet next week to map the way forward and consider street protests.
Mwonzora, who is also a lawyer, said: "There is very little that we can do because this is the highest court in the land."
Regarding protests, he said: "There is no other way. As we said before, we are going to pursue anything that is lawful."
Following the court ruling scores of Zanu PF supporters poured onto the streets of Harare in celebration, singing and dancing. One of them said: "This is the end for Chamisa. He is too young to rule. Better luck in 2023."
Earlier, the party's supporters gathered to watch proceedings in court from Zanu PF's headquarters.
The ruling highlighted the sharp divisions prevalent in the country since the election, which saw Mnangagwa win the election with 50.67% of the vote, against Chamisa's 44.3%.
An hour before the ruling, Chamisa's spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda suggested there was collusion between Zanu PF and the judiciary, as images on social media indicated that preparations for Mnangagwa's inauguration were well under way long before the ruling.
"The statement by Vice President Chiwenga suggesting that the president of the country will be Mnangagwa regardless of the court process undermines the court process. It suggests collusion. At various points, we have seen jets flying, in what appears to be preparation for the inauguration. There are also a number of letters that have gone viral to invite people to the event, suggesting the court process was of no value."
MDC director of communications Luke Tamborinyoka said his party would pursue other avenues to ensure that "the will of the people is protected. As a party and an alliance, we believe in the rule of law and we respect the verdict of the courts. But more so the verdict of the people who overwhelmingly voted for Nelson Chamisa, for transformation, opportunities and prosperity in their beloved country.
"Our unstinting belief in the rule of law means we shall not only respect the verdict of the bench but we shall also doggedly pursue all constitutionally permissible avenues to ensure that the sovereign will of the people is protected and guaranteed."