Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa calls for peace

Glen Norman
August 26, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a news conference at State House in Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 3, 2018.

As Zimbabwe's president elect Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to be inaugurated today, the country's opposition leader Nelson Chamisa says there is a constitutional crisis in Zimbabwe.

He accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of irregularly declaring the incumbent, Emmerson Mnangagwa, the victor of Zimbabwe's first polls without former president Robert Mugabe.

Chamisa's opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance, had brought the legal challenge saying that July 30's vote was marred by "mammoth theft and fraud".

Robert Mugabe's successor as leader of the ruling Zanu-PF party won the election on 30 July with 50.8% of the vote - just enough to meet the 50% threshold needed to avoid a run-off against Chamisa, who scored 44.3%.

"I have a legitimate claim that I am supposed to be leading the people of Zimbabwe", Chamisa said, adding that he would not attend Mnangagwa's inauguration on Sunday.

In a statement, the European Union urged all parties to "call for calm and restraint" after the court ruling.

Mnangagwa, who has vowed to revive Zimbabwe's ruined economy, had hoped the elections would draw a line under Mugabe's repressive 37-year rule and open up a stream of foreign investment and aid.

MDC Secretary General Douglas Mwonzora told reporters outside the court that "whatever we do as MDC we are going to act within the law".

But in a first for the country, the proceedings have been broadcast live on state television.

The judge further said Chamisa's team of lawyers was asked by the court why they did not seek to present the primary evidence from the ballot boxes, and their answer was "the election residue was a poisoned chalice", but Zec maintained it had carried out its mandate above board.

"I once again reiterate my call for peace and unity above all", Mnangagwa said on his official Twitter account.

"What the ruling means is that Zanu-PF doesn't have to pay, it is Chamisa who has to pay our lawyers".

Plans for Mnangagwa's swearing-in ceremony were postponed earlier this month after his election win was challenged by Chamisa.

Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe after the long-time ruler was ousted following a brief military takeover in November 2017.

The ruling ZANU-PF party has held power since independence in 1980 and Mnangagwa's inauguration is expected on Sunday.

Zimbabwe's electoral commission had declared Mnangagwa the victor of the July 30 balloting with 50.8 percent of the vote.

The US said further reforms were necessary to meet standards Zimbabweans expect, deserve and which reflect regional and global best practices for democratic elections.

A credible vote is key to lifting global sanctions as the southern African nation tries to move away from the long shadow of Robert Mugabe's 37-year rule.

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