Zimbabwe constitutional court starts election petition hearing

The opposition challenged the election results that declared Mnangagwa the winner after polling 50.8 percent of the vote against Chamisa's 44.3 percent.
Lawyers representing MDC Alliance arrive at the Constitutional Court in Harare, Zimbabwe, Aug. 22, 2018. Zimbabwe's constitutional court on Wednesday morning began hearing an election petition challenging President Emmerson Mnangagwa's victory in the July 30 polls as the nation eagerly awaits outcome of the court challenge. (Xinhua/Shaun Jusa)

Zimbabwe's constitutional court on Wednesday morning began hearing an election petition challenging President Emmerson Mnangagwa's victory in the July 30 polls as the nation eagerly awaits outcome of the court challenge.

Security was tight around the court premises while vehicle and human traffic in the city center was thinner than usual.

The opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa challenged the election results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) that declared Mnangagwa the winner after polling 50.8 percent of the vote against Chamisa's 44.3 percent.

Chamisa is alleging that ZEC manipulated the vote in favor of Mnangagwa.

In his application, Chamisa cited Mnangagwa, ZEC and 21 other presidential candidates as respondents.

Through his lawyers, Mnangagwa argues that there is no valid election petition challenging his victory before the court to warrant invalidation of the poll results.

He avers that Chamisa's petition is plagued with blatant procedural irregularities, and wants the court to dismiss the petition and confirm him the winner of the presidential poll.

In their response to Chamisa's petition, ZEC and its chairperson Priscilla Chigumba are also supporting Mnangagwa's assertion that there is no valid application filed by Chamisa.

ZEC says Chamisa's petition is "fatally and incurably defective" to nullify the results.

Nine judges of the constitutional court led by Chief Justice Luke Malaba are hearing the petition which is being beamed live by the state-broadcaster for the first time in the history of the nation.

In his opening remarks, Malaba said there were four categories of participants in the court hearing comprising the applicant (Chamisa), respondents opposing application (Mnangagwa and ZEC), parties that did not file notices of opposition but are in support of applicant (Chamisa) and parties that have requested to be excused from the hearing.

"We are here for a specific procedure which is oral submission, hearing of oral arguments by the parties and their representatives. Each party will be sticking to the rules of the court," Malaba said.

The court has until Friday to rule on the matter and its decision is final.

Xinhua

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