By Farai Chirimumimba
Judges at Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday began hearing an opposition petition challenging the result of the July 30 presidential election.
The nine judges have until tomorrow to rule in the case in which opposition leader Nelson Chamisa alleges vote rigging and fraud handed victory to incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The court permitted lawyers for three respondents to have access to the court after having been accused of supporting the applicant (Nelson Chamisa) instead of bringing their applications.
This is Nelson Chamisa’s first election challenge but not MDC’s first. In 2013, MDC-T challenged election defeat, but lost in court. In 2008 widespread and violent crackdown on mostly opposition supporters followed the declaration of a run-off by Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) nearly five weeks after the election and on August 1, the army was a deployed to quell protests in Harare where in shot and killed up to 10 people.
The brutal crackdown on unarmed protesters in Harare showed part of a pattern of violence and repression in opposition strongholds.
Chamisa’s lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu in his head of arguments dwelled on the gist of the case. He touched on the double capture of results in Mbire and Rushinga that shed 8,944 and 7713 votes. Mpofu also argued on why presidential and parliamentary election are different with 40,714 votes which ZEC has failed to explain, a difference that Mpofu stated cannot subsist by law in terms of Section 56 (3A) Electoral Act that speak to raising of form PE2005/AA in such a variance.
He went on to advice that 9,592 “ghosts votes came from non-existent polling stations.” In Mashonaland Central “report by ZBC on 5:30pm mentions figures to the effect that 105,000 had vote but two hours later 339,000 voted making a total of 444,000 votes,” Mpofu stated.
He said further said that ZEC has dishonoured two results and asked how ZEC come up with the new figures without verification of the results by interested parties. Advocate Mpofu concluded by saying that:”The issue stands to be decided on the numbers… Numbers do not lie. A run-off is avoidable. For now the election must be set aside.”
Chief Justice Luke Malaba and Justice Rita Makarau sought clarification on a number of issues. Malaba asked Chamisa’s Advocate Mpofu why the ballot boxes were not opened to verify and substantiate claims. “Why are we being made to discuss matters on secondary evidences that can be disputed…?” Mpofu replied that there was no reason to reopen boxes that were already manipulated. Malaba once again interjected questioning: “Where is proof by EU observes mission that V11 where not completed and posted…which polling stations are talking about. We don’t know what is in those residues….. they are original evidence they are expected to reveal evidence with compliance with the law… we want to know what are those who were present condition of perception… how are they being reflected in terms of evidence,” he said.
Mpofu said: “The point that am making is once there is a dissonance between presidential and parliamentary then ZEC should have used the law Justice Patel asked: “You said v11 were manipulated now surely to confirm on dispute would be look at those ballot in those ballot boxes…. What was on the residual will establish if the ballot was manipulated… before Justice Makarau chipped in asking: “How many are the V11 form in relation to total asked Makarau. “You have referred to us to a number of copies am asking in terms of numbers…. In relation to total v11 forms,” she asked. Malaba then interjected “Why go on speculative manipulation…… when our laws allow you to make an order for an extension of days for opening of the residual.” “You knew there was 48 hours to open those residual boxes…. Those would have been very important. You didn’t do it… We want to know why you didn’t make that decision,” he said” Mpofu stated that their case as…“Nothing to do with the residual” therefore: “Applicant not obliged to go for the residual.”