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Mnangagwa inauguration under a dark cloud of illegitimacy



ZIMBABWEAN President Emmerson Mnangagwa will today be inaugurated in Harare for a second term after his hotly-disputed re-election under a dark cloud of illegitimacy as the main opposition abandoned its threat of an electoral Constitutional Court challenge, amid confusion on the way forward.


The main opposition CCC and its leader Nelson Chamisa have been groping in the dark on how to proceed due to lack of strategic thinking and calculated tactical manoeuvring,  even though the elections were stolen in front of their eyes.

While some key regional leaders will attend, others will not. 

Notably, Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, who is also chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) troika on politics, defence and security cooperation, will not attend.

Hichilema has not even congratulated Mnangagwa on his contentious victory.

Zimbabwe has been making chaotic noise over who will attend the inauguration as it attempts to address the question of legitimacy after Sadc rejected its elections outcome as neither free, fair nor credible — which is unprecedented in the region.

The head of the Sadc Election Observer Mission, Nevers Mumba, has firmly stood his ground in defending his team’s damning report, which says the Zimbabwean elections failed to meet the basic minimum principles and guidelines governing democratic elections in the region.

Mumba has defended the report, saying his mission acted within its mandate as defined and guided by the Zimbabwean constitution, Electoral Act and the Sadc Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

He also said the report is a product of a team of experts from nine different Sadc countries and 25 different people, as well as stakeholders.

Mumba said he did not change a word from what the experts wrote as he felt they captured the situation well and accurately.

Reacting to sustained vicious and angry attacks on him over the report from the Zimbabwean government and ruling Zanu PF, Mumba said those making political noise are misguided elements barking up the wrong tree — “hunting down the wrong animal which they won’t eat even if they kill it”.

He said Zimbabwe should follow protocol through the Sadc headquarters in Botswana if it has official complaints to make on the report.

This has put the spotlight on Sadc chairperson Angolan President João Lourenço and Hichilema, who has taken a firm stand on the Zimbabwe issue.

Since Hichilema is not attending the inauguration at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, Mnangagwa’s legitimacy has dramatically taken a further knock, especially given that he initially came to power through a military coup in 2017, and scraped through disputed elections in 2018 and 2023.

Mumba said Hichilema was not involved in writing the report or directing the process beyond his instruction that: “Go to Zimbabwe and give Zimbabweans a chance to have free, fair and credible elections”.

At least  11 heads of state, former presidents, prime ministers and vice-presidents have confirmed attendance, according to the Foreign Affairs ministry.

“More than 12 speakers/ministers/special envoys and ambassadors have also confirmed their attendances. All the ambassadors accredited to Zimbabwe have been also invited for the big day for Zimbabwe. This is a joyous occasion for Zimbabwe. Let’s all celebrate our matured democracy,” the ministry said.

It is a long-established wisdom in domestic politics that legitimacy — and related qualities such as public trust, confidence and support, as well as social capital — is critical to governance.

Without enough political and democratic legitimacy, Mnangagwa would have to rely more on coercion to govern.

Having initially come in through a coup in 2017, Mnangagwa has failed to cultivate adequate legitimacy through the 2018 and 2023 elections. He is currently running on just above empty.
Mumba has resolutely defended the report, saying the Sadc observer mission acted within its mandate as defined and guided by the Zimbabwean constitution, Electoral Act and the Sadc Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

He said the report is the product of a team of experts from nine different Sadc countries and 25 different people, as well as stakeholders.

Mumba said he did not change a word from what the experts wrote as he felt they captured the situation well and accurately.

He said Zimbabwe should follow protocol through the Sadc headquarters in Botswana if it has official complaints to make on the report.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) declared Mnangagwa the winner with 2 357 711 votes, 52.6% of the vote. Chamisa garnered 1 967 343, representining 44% of the vote.
The results were immediately rejected by the CCC.

The African Union-Comesa observer mission also had misgivings about the polls.

CCC officials told The NewsHawks lawyers had drafted an application ahead of a planned Constitutional Court application and were reviewing the application by as late as Saturday afternoon, hoping to file an online application before the seven-day deadline.

Section 93 (1) of the constitution says a challenge to the presidential election should be lodged in court within seven days.

“Subject to this section, any aggrieved candidate may challenge the validity of an election of a President or Vice-President by lodging a petition or application with the Constitutional Court within seven days after the date of the declaration of the results of the election,” reads the constitution.

Senior party officials and lawyers were divided over whether to challenge the results or not, with some legal advisers insisting that a court application would only sanitise Mnangagwa and Zanu PF’s electoral fraud.

“To be honest even the lawyers were divided. Some felt that the bench was compromised and would rule in favour of Mnangagwa. The judges have received houses and other unsolicited gifts from government and we believe this was in preparation for this day,” a lawyer told The NewsHawks.

“A legal challenge in my opinion would have sanitised the fraud.”

The legal team had also agonised over whether to challenge the results or to challenge the process.

The elections were characterised by electoral illegalities, manipulation of the process, illegal interference by a shadowy intelligence structure, voter suppression on a massive scale, banning of rallies, intimidation and jailing of political opponents. There was also deportation of researchers, restriction of civil and political liberties, arrest of independent electoral monitors who usually provide alternative voter collation, voting trends and returns to shadow the official process.

The run-up to the polls was also marred by endless fights over voter registration and inspection, delimitation of boundaries, nomination of candidates, the voters’ roll, polling stations, postal voting process, lack of transparency in the procurement process, botched delivery of voting materials on time, including ballot papers, and disruption of monitors.

Some voters waited until polling stations closed at 7pm — having arrived before 7am, for instance in Warren Park, Budiriro and Glen View in Harare. Others had to wait for 24 hours in those areas to vote. In the process, thousands of voters left in frustration without casting their ballots as voter suppression and disenfranchisement took hold.

In all this fiasco, the courts and judiciary evidently took sides with the executive, while due process and justice suffered. The case of the disqualification of independent presidential candidate Saviour Kasukuwere by a judge at the behest of a Zanu PF activist — without due process — stands out.

The transmission, collation and verification of votes was done in haste — meaning an aberration on the process.

To make matters worse, the elections were run behind the scenes by an unconstitutional and spooky Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)-run unit, Forever Associates Zimbabwe (Faz), illegally using public resources. The CIO’s Faz illegally seized control of the electoral process, taking over from the military’s Heritage Trust.

Before Faz, previous elections were run by the army. Mnangagwa’s controversial re-election — rejected by some foreign poll observers, including those from Sadc countries — leaves Zimbabwe wallowing in the throes of a renewed crisis of legitimacy and economic failure.

Chamisa challenged the 2018 election results but his application was dismissed, with the ConCourt insisting the party produce V11 forms to back its election fraud claims.

Some lawyers believed if the court were neutral, there was a good chance of the challenge succeeding, given that a flawed electoral process cannot give a credible electoral result.
A court challenge would have stalled the inauguration until judgement is delivered.

The constitution gives power to the ConCourt to declare a winner or “invalidate the election, in which case a fresh election must be held within sixty days after the determination.”
In the meantime, Mnangagwa has sent invitations to his peers to attend the inauguration.

Curiously, however, a letter written to heads of foreign missions by Foreign Affairs secretary James Manzou says only heads of missions whose heads of state are attending the ceremony can witness the inauguration.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa confirmed in a statement that the swearing-in ceremony would be held on Monday.

“The nation is hereby informed that the inauguration ceremony for His Excellency President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa wil be held on Monday 04 September 2023. This follows his resounding re-election in the 2023 Harmonised Elections,” she said.

“The main celebrations will be held at the National Sports Stadium in Harare followed by a luncheon at State House for invited dignitaries. Members of the public who wish to attend are advised that gates open at 6am and buses are available to transport those in need. 

“A number of artists are lined up to perform at the inauguration ceremonies which wil be headlined by Jah Prayzah, Chief Hwenje, Sandra Ndebele and others. A football match between the Zimbabwe Warriors and the Namibian National Team known as the Brave Warriors will follow the inauguration ceremony. All Zimbabweans are welcome to witness this glorious celebration at the National Sports Stadium.”

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