Court upholds Mnangagwa’s victory in Zimbabwe elections

Opposition failed to provide ‘credible evidence’ of vote-rigging in July presidential vote

Emmerson Mnangagwa: the ruling Zanu-PF party’s presidential candidate will be officially sworn in as the country’s next leader in a ceremony on Sunday. Photograph: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

Emmerson Mnangagwa: the ruling Zanu-PF party’s presidential candidate will be officially sworn in as the country’s next leader in a ceremony on Sunday. Photograph: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

 

Zimbabwe’s highest court has upheld president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory in the July 30th presidential election, saying the main opposition alliance had failed to provide “sufficient and credible evidence” of vote-rigging.

The unanimous decision handed down at the constitutional court in Harare on Friday means that Mr Mnangagwa, the ruling Zanu-PF party’s presidential candidate, will be officially sworn in as the country’s next leader in a ceremony on Sunday.

“In the final analysis, the court finds the applicant [Movement for Democratic Change Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa] has failed to place before it clear, direct, sufficient and credible evidence” of irregularities, said chief justice Luke Malaba in his ruling.

Four days after voters made their mark the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced that Mr Mnangagwa had narrowly won the presidential poll with 50.8 per cent of the ballot, compared to second-placed Mr Chamisa, who secured 44.3 per cent.

The outcome meant Mr Mnangagwa had avoided a second-round run-off against his nearest rival, as he had scraped past the 50 per cent threshold needed to be declared the outright winner.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance subsequently lodged an appeal against the result at the constitutional court, citing widespread vote-rigging, and called for the result to be nullified and a second-round run-off to be ordered instead.

Demonstrations

The dispute over the election’s outcome sparked angry demonstrations in Harare by opposition supporters that led to the deaths of at least six people, when soldiers fired live ammunition at protesters.

On Wednesday both parties presented their case to the nine-judge bench, with the MDC Alliance lawyers claiming there was a “massive doctoring” of the vote and then a cover-up involving the ZEC, which oversaw the poll.

However, Judge Malaba was highly critical of the MDC Alliance’s petition to the court, saying its lawyers had not presented any hard evidence to support its allegations.

We still believe that this election was manipulated

After the ruling Mr Mnangagwa said in a series of tweets that the election results were “firmly in line with all pre-election polling” and that his party was “not surprised by the court’s decision”.

He went on to call for “peace and unity” among Zimbabweans, and extended an olive branch to Mr Chamisa, saying: “My door is open and arms are outstretched, we are one nation.”

Respect

The MDC Alliance said that although it disagreed with some of the court’s findings, it would respect the decision.

“We still believe that this election was manipulated,” MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora told reporters outside the court. He added they would now consider their options, but “whatever we do must be within the confines of the law”.

Western observers, who were invited to monitor the general election for the first time in 16 years, said that although campaigning and the vote were largely peaceful, the electoral process was badly flawed and could not be deemed free and fair.

Zanu-PF convincingly won the parliamentary election, and this result was not legally challenged by the opposition.

Mr Mnangagwa must now turn his attention to rebuilding an economy destroyed by his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in a military takeover last November.