Lawyers representing the opposition MDC Alliance in Zimbabwe arrive at the Harare Constitutional Court. The MDC challenged the results of last month’s presidential poll, claiming the vote had “gross mathematical errors”. Picture: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP/African News Agency (ANA)
Harare - As Zimbabweans wait for the Constitutional Court to deliver judgment on the election results challenge by the MDC Alliance, the court showdown with the ruling Zanu-PF dragged well into the night on Wednesday.

Legal teams spent hours deliberating on discrepancy claims made by opposition party leader Nelson Chamisa over results released after last month’s elections.

By 6pm, representatives from both sides were still arguing over how the voting process unfolded in various districts in the country, including the manner in which the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had gone about tallying the percentages which determined the winner of the presidential poll.

Chamisa insists that the processes were flawed and that he had beaten President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Chief among the arguments was that there was “over-voting” at some polling stations.

However, ZEC legal representative advocate Tawanda Kanengoni, who was unrelenting in dismissing submissions made by Chamisa, said there was no substantive proof that vote-rigging had occurred.

Earlier, advocate Thabani Mpofu, representing the MDC, said Chamisa was of the view that both the ZEC and Mnangagwa had colluded to undermine participatory democracy.

“There was a massive cover-up and massive doctoring of evidence,” Mpofu told the court.

He claimed the ZEC had inflated the tally for Mnangagwa. Almost 40000 voters were denied the right to cast ballots, including teachers deployed to officiate during the polls, he said.

But advocate Lewis Uriri, on behalf of Mnangagwa, asked the court to reject the figures given by the MDC, saying they were fabricated and did not originate from the ZEC. He challenged Chamisa to bring physical evidence to back up his claims.

Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba, who represented Zanu-PF, poured cold water on suggestions Zanu-PF had coerced assisted voters to go to polling stations.

He also dismissed claims that 20% of the polling stations had not posted results, highlighting that there were no complaints these stations were disenfranchised.

Meanwhile, anxiety gripped the capital city as the court hearings began. There was tight security and heavy police presence.

Police barricaded roads around the court premises, while those accredited to attend the proceedings were not allowed to carry electronic gadgets, including cellphones.

Outside the court, hundreds watched the court proceedings on giant screens.

The hearing got off to a dramatic start when South African lawyers Dali Mpofu and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who sought to represent Chamisa, were denied entry into the court, having been controversially denied permits to work in Zimbabwe.

They were eventually given permission to enter the court, but were not allowed to make submissions.

Chief Justice Luke Malaba, presiding over the proceedings, set the tone for what would be heated exchanges between the judges and Chamisa’s legal team when he ruled that lawyers would be given 20 minutes to present their arguments.

“If you (lawyers) exceed the time allocated to you, the microphone will be switched off and you will be left talking to yourself,” he asserted.

Justice Malaba led a team of nine judges to make a determination on the MDC challenge.

The court has 14 days, from August 13, in which to make its ruling.

The constitution gives the court options to declare a winner, invalidate the election and call for a fresh vote or issue any other order it deems appropriate. 

CAJ News