MDC Alliance presidential election candidate Nelson Chamisa has tabled “more evidence” he says will be enough to overturn President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s election victory ahead of a potentially bruising court case this week.
Chamisa is challenging Mnangagwa’s slim 50,8% win in the July 30 polls, where the youthful opposition leader garnered 44,3% of the vote, according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
The Constitutional Court will hear the petition on Wednesday and in his heads of argument filed yesterday, Chamisa said Zec had failed to explain the Zanu PF leader’s vote tally.
He said Mnangagwa was illegally given 70 000 votes by the commission to ensure that he avoids a run-off election.
“The number of votes cast in the presidential election does not square with the voter turnout claimed by the Zec,” Chamisa argued.
“If we apply the voter turnout to the voter population (85,1% of 5 695 936), we get 4 847 233.
“Yet the total valid votes announced by the Zec are lower, at 4 774 878.
“Zec suggests an explanation: that the former includes invalid votes.
“But the Zec does not fully explain how this discrepancy of more than 70 000 votes arises.
“For many polling stations, based on the Zec’s own results, the number of votes cast for the presidential election exceeded the number of votes cast for each parliamentary election.”
Chamisa said the presidential votes were “unexplainably higher” than parliamentary votes although every voter was given a corresponding number of ballot papers.
“Expert evidence concludes that ‘the total number of the National Assembly votes was 4 734 161 against a total of 4 774 878 for the presidential election,” he said.
“Expert evidence concludes that there were, inexplicably, more than 40 717 more votes in the presidential election than the parliamentary election. This figure is not disputed by Zec.
“Zec does not explain the discrepancy between voter turnout percentages in the presidential and parliamentary elections.
“Even if Zec were correct that voters did not have to accept all three ballot forms, and even if no record had to be made when a voter refused a ballot paper, the voter turnout figures should be the same for both elections.
“A voter is marked as having voted for purposes of calculating voter turnout regardless of how many elections he or she votes in.
“The voter turnout figures do not match. The applicant’s expert confirms that voter turnout for the presidential election was higher than the parliamentary election. Zec does not explain this discrepancy.”
Chamisa said his evidence showed that some polling stations had more votes cast than registered voters.
He said the discrepancies helped Mnangagwa avoid a run-off election after he allegedly gained an undeserved 32 000 votes.
“There were more votes cast than there were voters registered at those polling stations,” he said.
“Some of the more glaring examples include: The Dalny 1 Primary School polling station in the Chakari constituency, only 667 voters registered to vote, but 2 800 votes were cast (meaning that there were 2 133 more votes than registered voters).
“The Copley Primary School polling station in the Mazowe West constituency, only 661 voters registered to vote, but 1 875 votes were cast (meaning that there were 1 214 more votes than registered voters). The Chinhoyi Primary School polling station in the Chinhoyi constituency, only 190 voters registered to vote, but 1 366 votes were cast (meaning that there were 1 176 more votes than registered voters).
“The St Bernard’s Nyatsambo Primary School polling station in the Mhondoro-Ngezi constituency, only 766 voters registered to vote, but 1 855 votes were cast (meaning that there were 1 089 more votes than registered voters),” reads the voluminous response to papers filed by Mnangagwa and Zec.
Zec on August 3 declared Mnangagwa the winner of the 2018 presidential elections with 50,8% ahead of Chamisa on 44,3%.
However, the commission later revised the president’s victory margin downwards to 50,67%.
Chamisa said he hired an expert who was instrumental in the nullification of the Kenyan presidential elections last year and he unearthed a number of irregularities in the polls.
He said the analysis showed rampant duplication of voting results, which “is statistically ‘near-to-impossible’ and provides clear evidence of ‘tampering’ by Zec to achieve the desired result”.
“Polling stations with identical results accounted for a total of 16 199 votes, which gave Mnangagwa an additional 9 592 votes,” he said.
Mnangagwa and Zec want Chamisa’s case dismissed on the grounds that it was filed outside the stipulated time, a position the former student leader said was misguided.
He said instead of addressing the merits of the case, the president-elect and commission raised political arguments.
“I notice that rather than deal with the clear issues before the court and the electoral fraud perpetrated against me, first respondent (Mnangagwa) has launched an attack ad hominem on me,” he said.
“That attack does not and cannot change the fact that figures do not lie.”
Chamisa said some court and government officials tried to frustrate the filing of the case in order to help Mnangagwa.
He said his lawyers were harassed by state security agents while they were working on the case in an attempt to frustrate them.
Chamisa said in their responses, Mnangagwa and Zec made key concessions that showed the July 30 elections were flawed.
“Their position is that they went to an election with a suspect voters roll. How then can they claim that the election was proper and credible?” he retorted.
“The suggestion that there is a crisis in my party (MDC-T) and that I was ill-prepared for the elections is both gratuitous and unfortunate coming as it does from a person who lost to me and who fared a lot worse than his MPs.
“I also notice that first respondent (Mnangagwa) has failed to deal with many key issues, which form the substance of my challenge.
“In trying to mask that failure, first respondent has used uncouth language whose effect is to undermine the dignity of the court.
“The running all over the place that he has engaged shows that he is afraid. He is afraid because he has been found out.”
In his response to the court challenge, Mnangagwa had argued that Chamisa lost the election because he did not have a sound campaign message, a claim the MDC Alliance candidate said was false.
“In the urban areas where the literacy rate is very high, I beat first respondent hands down. I beat him in the rural areas,” he said.
“He cannot, with respect, claim that I had an empty message and that my promises were nonsensical under the circumstances.
“Be that as it may, the crux of the matter is that there are irregular figures, which I have placed before the court. Those figures do not lie.
“If the figures do not add up, if the first respondent does not have the 50,8% announced as is the case, the election must be set aside.
“That is indeed the case. The Electoral Act does not have to spell out that an election will be set aside if Zec announces false results.
“It follows as a matter both of common sense and the law.”
Mnangagwa, Zec and other respondents in the case have up to tomorrow to respond to Chamisa’s heads of argument.
Chamisa is being represented by a team of local lawyers led by Advocate Thabani Mpofu and also includes South Africa’s advocates Dali Mpofu and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi.
— The Standard