Zimbabwean opposition bids to nullify elections claiming ‘massive cover-up’

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says there was ‘no skulduggery’ in compilation of votes

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Photograph:   REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Photograph: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

 

Lawyers for Zimbabwe’s main opposition alliance have accused the ruling Zanu-PF party and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of “a massive cover-up” and of “doctoring evidence” to ensure President Emmerson Mnangagwa won last month’s presidential election.

“There is a massive cover-up,” Thabani Mpofu, representing the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance told the constitutional court yesterday morning, “there has been a massive doctoring of evidence.”

The MDC is bidding to have the election result nullified.

Four days after the poll took place the electoral commission (ZEC) announced Mr Mnangagwa had won the election with 50.8 per cent of the vote. MDC leader Nelson Chamisa secured 44.3 per cent.

That result meant the man who replaced Robert Mugabe last November as Zimbabwe’s president had surpassed the 50 per cent threshold needed to avoid a run-off between the top two candidates.

The MDC lawyers said that the ZEC, which the opposition alliance believes is biased towards Zanu-PF, bumped up Mr Mnangagwa’s votes through double counts and the creation of “ghost” polling stations.

They also alleged that some polling stations recorded more voters than the number registered to vote, and that at least 16 of them showed Mr Chamisa and Mr Mnangagwa had identical results. These irregularities, if taken into account, would wipe out the latter’s slim victory, the lawyers argued.

“A run-off is unavoidable. For now, the election must be set aside,” Mr Mpofu said, adding that “we have a false ZEC”.

The ZEC has insisted there was “no skulduggery” involved in the compilation of the votes in either the presidential or parliamentary elections. The poll for the lower house was won convincingly by Zanu-PF.

Mr Mnangagwa has urged the court to throw out the opposition’s appeal, which has already caused the postponement of his inauguration. If the court upholds Mr Mnangagwa’s win he would be reappointed president within 48 hours.

Mr Mnangagwa’s advocate, Lewis Uriri, argued before the nine-judge panel that the MDC’s lawyers had made “bold but unsubstantiated” allegations, but they failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt what they alleged.

“There is no particularity on how the alleged rigging took place,” said the ZEC’s lead advocate, Twanda Kanengoni, adding “the applicant [Nelson Chamisa] did not attach any evidence to substantiate his claims”.

According to legal experts, the constitutional court can declare a winner or invalidate the election, in which case a fresh presidential vote must be held within 60 days. It can also make an order that it considers “just and appropriate”, which could include a recount of votes, or order a run-off if it finds none of the presidential candidates passed the 50 per cent threshold needed to win the contest outright.

The court is expected to make a ruling tomorrow.