All eyes are on Zimbabwe as the country’s Constitutional Court hears the petition lodged by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa in his bid to overturn President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory in the July 30 elections.
Nine judges of the apex court led by Chief Justice Luke Malaba are set to hear the petition. Lawyers representing both sides arrived at the court early Tuesday morning.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, won with 50.8 percent of the vote — just enough to avoid a run-off against Chamisa, who scored 44.3 percent. Chamisa and his MDC party claim the result was full of “gross mathematical errors” and wants a new election or for the court to declare him the winner.
His case is already off to a rocky start.
Zimbabwe’s justice minister indicated that applications by Nelson Chamisa’s South African lawyers to appear in Harare’s Constitutional Court arrived late and didn’t have supporting documents.
Ziyambi Ziyambi told state ZBC radio on Monday that the applications arrived after he’d already left his office on Friday. He said he’d written to the lawyers to get them to send the information on Monday, but had only received documents for one of the lawyers – Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett.
But Chamisa’s spokesperson, Nkululeko Sibanda, played down the issue of his South Africans lawyers not getting permits.
“When we were talking to them we were clearly aware that the chances of them being allowed to operate in the country were very slim,” he told News24.
He said the MDC Alliance had hired the lawyers for their expertise and not necessarily to argue the case before the court.“The brains and expertise don’t need a visa to operate in the country,” he added.
A ruling is expected by Friday but Derek Matyszak, a legal expert at the University of Zimbabwe, says the opposition faces an uphill struggle given the courts’ historic tilt towards ZANU-PF.
“The outcome is pretty predictable,” Matyszak says. “There is absolutely no chance of the election results being overturned.”
Historically, the high court as ruled in favor of the ruling ZANU-PF of which Mnangagwa is a member. The ZANU-PF has ruled since Zimbabwe’s independence from British colonial rule in 1980.
Mnangagwa and his supporters say the election challenge is a waste of time and has urged Chamisa supporters to accept the outcome.