President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa wants the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) to declare him the winner of the hotly-disputed July 30 poll, and to disregard opposition leader Nelson Chamisa’s legal action which he says is merely intended to delay his inauguration.
This comes as the Con-Court will tomorrow hold a televised hearing to determine whether Chamisa has a solid case against Mnangagwa — who was declared the winner of the country’s presidential poll three weeks ago.
In his heads of argument against Chamisa’s court application, Mnangagwa said the petition was an abuse of the court process as it was only intended to delay him from taking his oath of office.
“It (application) is only meant to hold the first respondent and the nation at ransom to achieve purposes and objects unconnected to the litigation,” Mnangagwa said, adding that the Con-Court must declare him as the winner as “the election results were a true reflection of the people’s will”.
Chamisa filed his court challenge against Mnangagwa’s hotly-disputed victory in the July 30 election on August 10 — thereby suspending the latter’s planned inauguration which was due a day before the Heroes Day holiday.
In essence, Chamisa’s court application seeks to either have the presidential election declared as null and void, or for him to be affirmed as the rightful winner of the poll. Alternatively, the MDC Alliance leader wants a fresh presidential race to be held.
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.
In determining the petition, 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. If it upholds the election result, Mnangagwa will be sworn in within 48 hours of the decision.
In his heads of argument, Mnangagwa further said his “victory” was hard to bear for Chamisa and the more than two million people who had voted for him.
“The disappointment naturally felt by a candidate, his election agent and supporters on his failure to secure election often causes a keen desire to appeal to the law. The sting of defeat is hard to bear.
“But everyone aiding or concerned in the presentation of an election petition, should carefully consider and be advised upon the whole position, before adopting so serious a step, and should weigh all the consequences that may ensue for either the success or failure of a petition.
“There is no legal proceeding which is more far-reaching in its effects, which excites a greater amount of animosity, personal feeling and hostility,” Mnangagwa said.
The Zanu PF leader also sought to dismiss the challenges by his other rivals who were cited as co-respondents by Chamisa.
“These ‘notices of opposition’ are in reality disguised applications by aggrieved losing candidates in the elections. The disguised applications have been lodged outside the peremptory time period provided for in the Constitution ….
“The challenge must be by court application as provided for in Rule 23(1) of the Rules. If he does not do so within seven days, he loses the right to challenge the outcome of the election.
“These respondents did not lodge challenges to the declaration of the first respondent as the winner of the elections within the time period and manner prescribed.
They accordingly lost the right to challenge the declaration of the results,” Mnangagwa argued.
His averments were supported by Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Priscilla Chigumba in separate submissions, captured in her heads of argument.
According to Mnangagwa and Chigumba, Chamisa had failed to supply to the respondents, the bundle of evidence that he makes reference to in his application.
“It is common cause that these separate bundles were not and have not been served on the 23rd, 24th and 25th respondents (Zec, Chigumba and the chief elections officer to the Electoral Commission).
“It is common cause that the 23rd, 24th and 25th respondents prepared and filed their opposing papers in this matter without having had sight of any of the separate bundles referred to by the applicant in his founding affidavit,” Chigumba said.
She said it would be prejudicial to the electoral body, for it to be referred to evidence that does not form part of the court bundle, adding litigation is not an ambush.