ZANU PF’s legal team was yesterday caught up in a mega faux pas — an embarrassing situation that the ruling party’s learned lawyers will probably want to forget quickly.
This was after the team attempted to file the party’s opposing papers to opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s Constitutional Court (Con-Court) challenge against President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa’s disputed July 30 victory.
Yesterday was a holiday and all courts are closed for business on such days.
Led by the party’s secretary for legal affairs, Paul Mangwana, the Zanu PF legal team duly arrived at the Con-Court yesterday morning, only to find the gates closed.
“We are making calls to find out why the court is not open. We went to the Constitutional Court and found it closed. We are ready to file, but there is no one is sight,” Mangwana told the Daily News.
Judicial Service Commission (JSC) acting secretary Walter Chikwana, said the Con-Court would only resume normal business tomorrow, after the end of the Heroes and National Defence Forces holidays.
“We don’t open on public holidays, we will only open on Wednesday,” he said.
This comes after Chamisa approached the Con-Court on Friday to either have the recent presidential election declared as null and void or to be affirmed as the rightful winner of that poll. Alternatively, the MDC Alliance leader wants a fresh presidential race to be held.
Mnangagwa and his legal team have three working days to respond to the court challenge.
The crunch July 30 elections were marred by the yet-to-be tested allegations of ballot cheating — culminating in Chamisa’s court petition.
In the disputed presidential vote, Mnangagwa narrowly avoided a run-off after polling 50,8 percent of the ballot, against Chamisa’s 44,3 percent.
If the Con-Court upholds the election result, Mnangagwa will then be sworn in within 48 hours of the court’s decision.
In determining the petition or application, the Con-Court may declare a winner or invalidate the election — in which case a fresh election will have to be held within 60 days after the determination.
Mangwana has said they want the Con-Court to dismiss Chamisa’s petition on technical grounds, including on the basis that the MDC Alliance did not allegedly serve the papers at the president’s address properly.
“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,” Mangwana has said.
Millions of Zimbabweans cast their vote in the historic July 30 elections, to choose both a new Parliament and president — following the dramatic fall from power of ousted former leader Robert Mugabe in November last year.
The elections were the first since 1980 to be held in the country without Mugabe’s participation, whose 37-year iron-fisted rule was stunningly ended by a military operation which triggered events that ended with his resignation.
The elections also marked the first time that the main opposition MDC was not represented by its founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who lost his brave battle with cancer of the colon on Valentine’s Day this year.