Zimbabwe: 2018 Presidential Election Challenge - Full Judgment Released

8 November 2019

The Constitutional Court (Concourt) yesterday released a detailed 137-page judgment, upholding President Mnangagwa's victory in last year's harmonised elections, saying the petition by MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa was premised on bald and unsubstantiated rigging claims.

Chief Justice Luke Malaba, who heard the petition with eight other judges, found no fault with the conduct of the election.

Mr Chamisa, who lost the election to President Mnangagwa, challenged the validity of the election which he claimed was rigged in favour of President Mnangagwa.

Mr Chamisa raised a host of allegations, including alleged vote-buying, ghost polling stations, denial of 40 000 teachers of the right to vote, skewed media coverage by the public media and inflation of figures, among others.

Chief Justice Malaba said the onus to prove the irregularities lay with Mr Chamisa, but he failed to convince the court.

"In the final analysis, the Court found that the applicant failed to place before it clear, sufficient, direct and credible evidence to prove the irregularities he levelled against the Commission.

"He also failed to prove the allegation of electoral malpractices he levelled against the first respondent.

"The applicant did not prove the alleged irregularities as a matter of fact.

"It would be unnecessary in the circumstances to ask and answer the question whether the alleged irregularities affected the result of the Presidential election," ruled Chief Justice Malaba.

The court ruled that the people of Zimbabwe spoke through the election and the court could not interfere with the voice of the people.

"It is not for a court to decide elections; it is the people who do so. It is the duty of the courts to strive in the public interest to sustain that which the people have expressed as their will," he said.

In terms of Section 93(4) (a), of the Constitution, the court declared President Mnangagwa winner of Presidential elections held on the 30th of July 2018.

He said the failure by Mr Chamisa and his lawyers to produce primary evidence substantiating the rigging claims was fatal to the case.

"The best evidence in this instance, would have been the contents of the ballot boxes themselves. That is the primary source evidence.

"Evidence of the contents of the ballot boxes compared to the announcement by the electoral commission and the evidence within the applicant's knowledge, would have given the court a clear picture of electoral malpractices, if any had occurred.

"The applicant needed more evidence than the mere admission by ZEC on the inaccuracy of the mathematical figures," said the Chief Justice.

The court also found that Mr Chamisa's failure to send polling agents to all polling stations also deprived him of the much needed evidence to prove his claims.

Desperation on the part of Mr Chamisa, the court said, resulted in him fabricating evidence in a failed bid to mislead the judges.

The court ruled that Mr Chamisa deliberately lied to the court that some V11 forms were only signed but not populated.

"ZEC proved through the V11 forms that the allegations that some V11 were signed but not populated was false and there appears to have been a deliberate fabrication of evidence with an intention to mislead the court," he said.

Chief Justice Malaba said Mr Chamisa failed to establish the alleged infractions by both ZEC and President Mnangagwa in the conduct of the election.

The court held that the allegations against President Mnangagwa were general in nature and unsubstantiated.

It was also the court's finding that Mr Chamisa lodged his application out of time but the court just condoned the violation due to the importance of the case.

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