BREAKING: ConCourt dismisses Chamisa’s election challenge

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Chief Justice Luke Malaba.

Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court has dismissed with costs an application by opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, in which he was challenging Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory in the presidential election held last month.

By Andrew Kunambura and Kuda Chideme

Mnangagwa won the election on July 30 by 50,8%; although the electoral body the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission(Zec) later revised it to 50,67% citing mathematical errors.

Nelson Chamisa got 44,3% of the vote.

The Zimbabwean constitution specifies that for a presidential candidate to get a mandate to form a government, he or she must get at least 50% plus one of the vote.

The court upheld Mnangagwa’s victory and he will now be sworn in on Sunday in accordance with the country’s constitution which requires that the inauguration must take place within 48 hours of the Constitutional Court’s ruling .

Chamisa had argued in his application that Mnangagwa colluded with Zec to rig the election through ballot staffing, vote buying and manipulation of the result.

He also alleged that at least 40 000 government workers assigned to Zec during the poll were denied the opportunity to vote, something which prejudiced him.

But the nine member bench, headed by chief justice Luke Malaba unanimously ruled against Chamisa citing lack of evidence.

The court also dismissed Chamisa’s submission that ghost polling stations were established across the country for purposes of rigging the poll, saying the generalised claim “lacked clarity and specificity”.

“The court finds that the applicant has failed to place before it clear, direct and sufficient and credible evidence that the irregularities he alleged marred the electoral process materially existed. In other words, there was no proof of the happenings of these irregularities as a matter of fact. There would therefore have been no purpose for this court to go further and inquire into the question as to whether such irregularities materially affected the election result,” said Malaba who read the abridged judgement on Friday afternoon.

He added: “It is an internationally accepted principle of election dispute that an election is not set aside easily; merely on the basis that irregularities occurred. There is a presumption of validity of an election. This is so also because as long as an election was conducted substantially in terms of the constitution and the governing laws, it would have reflected the will of the people. Therefore, the application ought to be dismissed and as a result, the application is dismissed with costs.”

Chamisa initially sought relief to have the election overturned so he is declared winner but later altered the relief and sought a run-off of the presidential poll arguing that no one had garnered enough vote in the first place.

Such a scenario is provided for by the Zimbabwean constitution.

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