CALLS for a fresh election by the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) can only be guaranteed by a court of law, legal experts have pointed out, as the opposition runs out of time to lodge an appeal.
Justice Alfred Mavedzenge, a lawyer based in South Africa, told The NewsHawks that without going to court, the public denouncing of the 23 August polls becomes mere banter.
“There is no legal support for the position that CCC has taken. I say this because in terms of the constitution of Zimbabwe elections are due every five years. And the election that was held in August is considered to be a valid election until and unless it is challenged in a court of law. If that election that was held in August 2023 is not declared null and void, then the result of that election is valid for the next five years,” said Mavedzenge.
The election process was widely condemned by observer missions that were on duty on election day citing voter supression in opposition strongholds in Harare, Bulawayo and Manicaland.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has already gazetted the results after declaring Emmerson Mnangagwa the winner (52.6% of the vote) and Nelson Chamisa as the runner-up with 44%.
Section 93.1 of the constitution of Zimbabwe provides that if there is a dispute in the election process, aggrieved parties should approach the court within seven days of declaration of results and if the court grants the aggrieved party a re-election it should be done within 60 days of the court order.
“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 declaration of the results of the election,” reads the constitution.
“In determining a petition or application under sub-section 1, the Constitutional Court may invalidate the election, in which case a fresh election must be held within sixty days after the determination,” reads section 93.4(b) of the constitution.
CCC has however not revealed its game plan as the leaders have ducked and dived when asked at Press conferences whether they are going to court or not as the seven-day window elapses on Tuesday, 5 August 2023.
Mavedzenge’s voice is not isolated on the matter, as the deported British professor Stephen Chan has also reinforced the need for the opposition to go to court while rolling out a diplomatic offensive.
“. . . It seems the strategy is to call upon Sadc and the AU to support this call. This may not be successful. Observer reports are one thing, repudiating a government, even one in place by tainted means, is something else. Sadc etc will say to try the courts first, but the courts, in likely ruling against the CCC, will simply validate the government, further reinforcing the Sadc/AU reluctance actually to intervene,” said Chan.
The CCC is however caught between a rock and a hard place as the party is supposed to lodge its complaints to a court that has previously dismissed the opposition party’s cases as not urgent or not properly before the court.
Mavedzenge notes this as a hurdle for Chamisa and team in challenging the results of this election.
The other option the CCC has is to embark on a diplomatic offensive, but the party needs evidence showing that the result was manipulated.
“The only way that they can succeed in their call for fresh elections is if they manage to politically persuade Sadc and AU that this election was flawed to the extent that Sadc and AU can be able to put pressure on the government of Zimbabwe to amend the constitution and organise a rerun. But for the CCC to succeed on that journey they need two things, first they need credible evidence to demonstrate that the election was flawed, in particular the V11s in order to show that the result was manipulated which is their point right now; they are saying the results that Zec has announced are rigged, so they need them to show in unequivocal terms that the election was rigged,” said Mavedzenge.
Fears have been raised that they might have had manpower across the 12 317 polling stations across the country.
Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya also cast doubt on the possibility of the country holding fresh elections.
“Zanu PF will not agree,” he said.