Zimbabwe has entered another nail-biting week as it eagerly waits for the full bench of the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) to hear a petition filed by MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, who is seeking to overturn President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa’s win.
On Wednesday, the court will commence the hearing of the presidential challenge, with a verdict likely by Friday.
This comes as regional leaders have called for calm ahead of the hearing at the just-ended Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit held in Namibia.
The summit, “called upon all stakeholders in Zimbabwe to remain calm while the legal processes regarding the outcome of the election are being considered by the courts and to respect the will of the people of Zimbabwe”.
In his application, Chamisa claims to have won the election with 60 percent of the vote.
But according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), he got 44,3 percent, while Mnangagwa got 50,8 percent, figures, which have now been revised upwards and downwards respectively by the electoral body.
According to the revised Zec figures, Chamisa now has 44,39 percent, while Mnangagwa now stands at 50,6 percent.
As consequent to the legal battle, no inauguration has taken place — more than two weeks after the disputed poll results were announced.
Initially, Mnangagwa’s inauguration had been slated for August 12 but it had to be cancelled after Chamisa lodged his petition at the Con-Court.
Since then, the country has been gripped in uncertainty.
Chamisa is seeking the court to nullify the election results and that he be declared the winner or an order for the conducting of fresh elections be granted.
Mnangagwa insists he legitimately won the ballot.
He told the court that Zec was correct in declaring him the winner, calling on the Con-Court to dismiss Chamisa’s application with costs.
It is now up to the Con-Court led by Chief Justice Luke Malaba to make the final ruling based on the evidence presented before it.
Academic Pedzisai Ruhanya wrote on his Twitter account that all the eyes will be on the Con- Court bench.
“…Whatever ruling the court makes, Zimbabwe is in deep crisis of legitimacy that mere legalities can’t resolve; not even the Constitutional Court!”
The public sphere and the social media alike were yesterday dominated with discussions and comments pertaining to the court case.
Other Twitter users like Jabusile Shumba, said, “?#Zimbabwe The Constitutional Court has an opportunity to break with the past, demonstrate highest levels of probity and impartiality and restore faith in the judiciary and importantly the people from which the ultimate power is derived”.
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said the case was a highly contentious issue, noting some people would be saddened by its outcome while others will celebrate.
“It is going to be a highly contentious ruling, which is going to receive varying analysis from different players. Whatever the outcome, the net effect is going to deepen the polarisation in the country. It is clear from comparative survey, Zimbabwe has deep polarisation,” Masunungure said.
He said the court ruling will impact negatively on this deep polarisation, which can only be dealt with if there is a post effect of national healing and reconciliation to bridge the divide between Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance.
Masunungure also said there was need for the regional community to assist the country in its quest to bridge the political divisions, adding that the Judiciary will surely have to analyse the evidence presented before it and the rebuttal by Mnangagwa to come up with a fair judgment.
He said besides being “legal animals,” judges were also “political animals too” and will have to make political considerations that will not impact negatively on the country.
He said the court’s decision had the effect of leaving the bench being applauded by the international community, like what happened in Kenya or risked being accused by the losers of playing into the hands of the international community’s political pressure.
The Thokozani Khupe-led MDC vice president, Obert Gutu, said even after the court ruling the country will still move on.
”The day is Wednesday, August 22, 2018 and the Constitutional Court will deliver a sound and concise judgement. Zimbabwe will continue to move on. God bless you all my compatriots!” he said on Twitter.
MDC Alliance national chairperson Morgen Komichi, said the court has a chance to correct the electoral malpractices in the country through his boss’ application.
“Con-Court it’s your time to correct all the disruptions of the democratic practices in the Zimbabwe elections once and for all. Listen to the voice of the Lord,” wrote Komichi on Twitter.