The MDC Alliance missed the deadline to serve its poll petition on President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Constitutional Court should thus dismiss it, Zanu-PF’s lawyers have said.
The ruling party also says the papers were not served at the address the President-elect provided to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for purposes of the election.
Further, the bulk of the other 21 Presidential candidates cited as respondents in the MDC Alliance’s petition yesterday said they had not been served with any papers, with some slamming the losing party’s leader, Mr Nelson Chamisa, for trying to drag them into his battles.
As such, President-elect Mnangagwa’s party wants the case dismissed before the merits of the opposition’s challenge are even considered.
Zanu-PF has at least 12 lawyers handling the matter.
Last Friday, the MDC Alliance sought nullification of the Presidential election results announced by ZEC, or for the court to declare Mr Chamisa the winner of the polls.
In the harmonised elections, Zanu-PF won more than two thirds of National Assembly seats up for grabs; but President-elect Mnangagwa took a narrow 50,8 percent of the Presidential vote to Mr Chamisa’s 44,3 percent.
The ruling party yesterday said the matter should be dismissed because the MDC Alliance faltered at law by failing to serve papers to President-elect Mnangagwa on time, and also served the papers at the wrong address.
In the event that this request is not granted, Zanu-PF’s lawyers expressed confidece that the matter would be dismissed because the issues raised by the MDC Alliance were not sound at law and were mere politicking.
Politburo member Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said, “In my capacity as Secretary for Legal Affairs of Zanu-PF party, I would like to confirm that, this morning the 11th of August 2018, and at 1030 hours, the Sheriff of the High Court of Zimbabwe, purportedly served papers in respect of Constitutional Challenge Case No CCZ 42/2018 on Comrade ED Mnangagwa at his Munhumutapa Office.
“The purported service is irregular for a number of reasons, including that, it is hopelessly out of time, the pronouncement having been made on or before the 3rd of August, 2018. Service should have been done by Friday, the 10th of August, 2018.
“In any event, service should have been effected at Comrade ED Mnangagwa’s address, as given in his nomination papers, being Pricable Farm, Sherwood Block, Kwekwe, and further that, from the papers delivered, there is not attached some documents referred to in the application.
“To our knowledge, because of the attempt to catch respondents by surprise, the applicant has failed to effect service on time, and in accordance with the law.”
Cde Mangwana said Zanu-PF had assembled a “Legal Dream Team” of about a dozen lawyers to handle the matter.
“We have a team of lawyers led by Advocate Lewis Uriri and Advocate Thembinkosi Magwaliba for the court challenge. These two will be supported by 10 other locally based lawyers. We are going to file, most probably on Monday. We are confident of winning this case because the matters raised are political rather than legal.”
Most of the Presidential candidates who stood in the July 30 elections and were cited as respondents said they were yet to receive Mr Chamisa’s petition as of yesterday.
Spokesperson for Dr Thokozani Khupe’s MDC-T, Mrs Priscillah Misiharabwi-Mushonga said: “The last time I checked with Dr Khupe that was around 2pm (yesterday) she had not received anything. However we will let the courts decide and we will go with whatever the courts decide.”
Mr Divine Mhambi Hove of the Nationalists Alliance of Patriotic and Democratic Republicans said he found it strange that prior to the polls, Mr Chamisa claimed he had put in place “anti-rigging mechanisms” but was now claiming that the elections were rigged.
“I understand being a respondent does not necessarily imply mean that I am co-implicated in the allegations, but it’s just that I participated as a Presidential candidate. So it won’t make any difference for me, so there is no way I am going to be bothered.
“The Alliance took some of us and our advice for granted and they thought they should play it alone, so I hope it’s a lesson for him.”
Democratic Opposition Party Presidential candidate Mr Harry Wilson said: “As DOP, we are surprised because we have not personally challenged ED’s win; neither did the MDC Alliance approach us as they prepared their challenge so we could put our input.
“We are also not part of the Alliance, we do not share their vision and we have no obligation to fight in their corner. As DOP, we have no evidence that can be reason to fight their claim that Chamisa won the Presidency.
“As DOP, we are happy with the Presidential vote, we scored throughout the country and this is an indicator that our future is promising and intact.”
Dr Blessing Kasiyamhuru, the Presidential candidate for the Zimbabwe Partnership for Prosperity, said Mr Chamisa was delaying the inevitable.
“They are trying to make the process long so as to delay the inauguration of ED. We are victims and not defendants, unless Chamisa’s lawyers are seeking a trial where they want to go against everyone. I just saw the papers and my name on social media, I have not been served with those court papers.”
Mr Peter Mapfumo Gava of United Democratic Front weighed in: “I kindly urge both Mr Mnangagwa and Mr Chamisa to put Zimbabweans and Zimbabwe first. Our people have suffered for too long and the time to give them a better life is now. It is not all about us as leaders but our people.”
The president of the Republicans Party of Zimbabwe Mr Kwanele Hlabangana said he was out of town but had not been served with the papers.
Alliance for the People’s Agenda President Dr Nkosana Moyo said: “I have not been served with papers as yet so I am not in position to comment until I have seen the papers.”
Independent candidate, Mr Brayn Mteki said he was in South Africa.
“I am not aware of the court application. However I wrote to President Mnangagwa and I congratulated him on winning the elections. I have since accepted the results. We do not need a court challenge; we need a way forward. We need to work together as Zimbabweans and this what I highlighted in the congratulatory letter to President Mngangawa.”
United Democratic Alliance president Mr Daniel Shumba said he supported the court poll petition although he was still to be notified about it.
“As UDA, there are areas we feel the results were manipulated. We have the evidence and we are going to present it at a later stage. So we totally agree with the court application by MDC Alliance.”
Reverend Everisto Chikanga of Rebuild Zimbabwe added: “We have not been notified or served with the court papers. However we feel that if there is a dispute it should be solved amicably so that it does not haunt future generations. Taking it to court is the right channel. As a party we are now waiting for court ruling on the matter and we have not yet accepted the results.”
Mr Willard Taonezvi Mugadza of Bethel Christian Party said, “I will abide by the constitution. I have not been served – maybe by end of next week.”
Co-President of the #1980 Freedom Movement of Zimbabwe Dr Francis Danha said the MDC Alliance was within its Constitutional rights to approach the courts; while the vice-president of United Democratic Movement, Pastor Patrick Mugadza, said his party had not been served with the court papers but would support the poll petition.
“We were notified through the press that UDM president Mrs Violet Mariyacha has been cited as a respondent on the Alliance petition. We are happy with the court challenge as we have noticed some anomalies ourselves.
“We have not been officially handed the court papers, but as a party we believe that it is his constitutional right to approach the highest court. However, we doubt there will be any positive outcome from the courts in favour of the Alliance.”