Zimbabwe: Decision Day... All Eyes On the Constitutional Court Bench

President Emmerson Mnangagwa smiles for photographers after a news conference earlier this month in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare.

Zimbabwe's Chief Justice Luke Malaba has dismissed Nelson Chamisa's application to have the results of the presidential election set aside, and ruled that Emmerson Mnangagwa is the rightful president of Zimbabwe on Friday.

When Chamisa's supporters took to the streets the day after the election commission declared Mnangagwa the victor to protest the results, police responded by using tear gas and live fire, killing six people.

But the vote has left the nation polarised, with violence flaring on the streets of Harare, and Chamisa, who leads the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), mounting his legal challenge.

The electoral commission had declared Mnangagwa won with 50.8 percent of the vote but later revised that down to 50.6, attributing the revision to an "error" but arguing it was not significant enough to invalidate the win.

An hour before the ruling, Chamisa's spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda suggested there was collusion between Zanu PF and the judiciary, as images on social media indicated that preparations for Mnangagwa's inauguration were well under way long before the ruling.

The court said it was up to the opposition to prove its claims and it failed to do so, saying the best evidence would have been the content of the sealed ballot boxes, but that route was not pursued.

The petition hearing is the first to be streamed live from the courtroom in the history of the country.

"Yes, judgement has been made but as far as we are concerned, we have a view that is contrary to the view of the Constitutional Court", Chamisa said.

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.

On the streets of Harare, where half a million people voted for Chamisa it seemed like business as usual.

The statement also says in the coming days the opposition will announce a "vigorous program of action in response to this electoral theft of the century".

"I won the court case before it began", Mnangagwa said on the sidelines of a regional summit in Namibia at the weekend.

After Mugabe's ouster, his ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, retained power and Mnangagwa slid into Mugabe's seat.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told Reuters that Mnangagwa will be inaugurated on Sunday.

If the court upholds the incumbent president's win, his inauguration would take place within 48 hours.

The ZEC was also accused of unfairness when it delivered three results following the presidential election, the lawyers argued.

  • Tracy Klein