Zimbabwe’s Chamisa challenges election result, halts inauguration

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa addresses a media conference following the announcement of election results in Harare, Zimbabwe, on August 3, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa addresses a media conference following the announcement of election results in Harare, Zimbabwe, on August 3, 2018. (Photo by Reuters)

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, filed a court challenge on Friday against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s election victory, halting Mnangagwa’s planned Sunday inauguration.

The first election since Robert Mugabe was forced to resign after a coup in November had been expected to end Zimbabwe’s pariah status and launch an economic recovery but post-election unrest has reminded the country of its violent past.

Chamisa’s lawyer Thabani Mpofu said he had asked the Constitutional Court to nullify the July 30 vote and that his court application meant Mnangagwa’s swearing-in had been halted.

Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told Reuters Sunday’s inauguration “will no longer happen” until the case is finalised.

“On the basis of the evidence we have placed before the court, we seek in the main relief to the effect that the court should declare the proper winner and the proper winner is my client,” Mpofu told reporters outside.

“In the alternative, we seek that there be another election which complies with the dictates of the law,” Mpofu said. “There is no inauguration that will take place until the matter is determined by the court.”

The constitution requires a losing presidential candidate to file any challenge within seven days of a winner being declared.

The Constitutional Court, which can declare a new winner or order a fresh election, must rule within 14 days of an election petition.

Mnangagwa’s ruling ZANU-PF party dismissed the legal action.

“I am confident they have no case. Elections are not won in court, they are won in the field. But if they want to meet us in court we have sufficient legal minds to meet them squarely in court,” ZANU-PF legal secretary Paul Mangwana said.

Mnangagwa secured a comfortable victory in last month’s vote, according to results from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, polling 2.46 million votes against 2.15 million for the 40-year-old Chamisa. The opposition said the result was rigged.

The election passed off relatively smoothly but its aftermath revealed the deep rifts in Zimbabwean society.

Two days after the vote, six people were killed in an army crackdown on protests against the victory by Mnangagwa’s ruling ZANU-PF party.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission said it was concerned that no one was taking responsibility for the deployment of soldiers that the opposition says were harassing its supporters and ordinary citizens in townships at night.

“This poses an even bigger danger to communities as it appears that the soldiers beating up civilians are not accountable to anyone,” the commission said.

Earlier on Friday, opposition leader and former finance minister Tendai Biti appeared in court to challenge his arrest on Thursday on charges of public violence and illegally announcing election results. The case was postponed to next Wednesday.

(Source: Reuters)

Zimbabwe Detains Tendai Biti for ”inciting public violence;” Declaring “Unofficial Or Fake” Election Results,

Tendai Biti. (File: AFP)
Tendai Biti. (File: AFP)
Senior Zimbabwean opposition figure Tendai Biti was in police custody on Thursday after Zambia rejected his asylum bid and deported him, as fears grew about a government crackdown following Zimbabwe’s disputed election.

Biti was at Harare Central Police Station with his lawyers, said Roselyn Hanzi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Police spokesperson Charity Charamba said Biti faced charges of inciting public violence, which could bring up to a decade in prison, and declaring “unofficial or fake” election results, which has a maximum six-month sentence

Zambian border guards handed Biti to Zimbabwean authorities despite a Zambian court order saying he should not be deported until it could hear his appeal for asylum, Zambian lawyer Gilbert Phiri told The Associated Press.

“Zambian authorities acted in defiance of our courts, in defiance of regional and international law,” Phiri said. Zambia’s foreign minister said Biti’s reasons for seeking asylum “did not have merit.”

Biti’s plight has raised concerns about a wave of repression against the opposition by the government of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who narrowly won last week’s election. It comes as the opposition prepares to launch a legal challenge to last week’s voting results, calling them fraudulent.

“This is a worrying development,” said David Coltart, a friend of Biti’s who is a fellow member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and a human rights lawyer. “Tendai was arrested in 2008 on a similar charge and while he was in custody he was brutally tortured.”

The United Nations refugee agency said it was “gravely concerned” about the reports of Biti’s forced return to Zimbabwe, calling such returns a serious violation of international law. It urged Zambian authorities to urgently investigate.

A joint statement by the heads of missions in Zimbabwe of the European Union, the United States, Canada and Australia urgently called on Zimbabwean authorities to guarantee Biti’s safety and respect his rights. It also said the diplomats were “deeply disturbed” by the reports of Zimbabwean security forces targeting the opposition.

Biti, a former finance minister and newly elected member of parliament for the MDC, a day after the July 30 vote urged opposition supporters to defend their votes in the disputed ballot, saying that MDC candidate Nelson Chamisa had won the presidential race.

Authorities say it is against the law to declare the winner of an election before the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission announces the official results.

The day after Biti’s remarks, the military opened fire to disperse opposition protesters in the streets of Zimbabwe’s capital, killing six people. Western election observers, whose endorsement of a credible election is badly needed for the lifting of international sanctions on Zimbabwe, quickly condemned the “excessive” force.

While Mnangagwa has hailed a “flowering” of democracy in Zimbabwe since longtime leader Robert Mugabe stepped down in November under military pressure, alarm has been growing inside and outside the country.

The British embassy in Zimbabwe said on Thursday it had spoken with Zimbabwean and Zambian authorities overnight to seek “clear assurances” that Biti’s safety would be guaranteed. The United States’ top diplomat for Africa, Tibor Nagy, urged Zambian authorities to allow Biti to stay or allow him safe passage to a third country.

READ RELATED: Zambia hands over Tendai Biti to Zimbabwean police, defying court order: lawyer

READ RELATED: Zimbabwean opposition official Tendai Biti denied asylum, being deported

READ RELATED: Zimbabwe opposition official freed, lawyer says

The state-run Herald newspaper in an “editorial comment” said Biti “sneaked into Zambia in a bid to evade the law.”

It also urged Zambian authorities to respect Interpol and not the UN convention on refugees, which rejects the returning of asylum-seekers to the countries they have fled.

Under Mugabe’s 37 years in power, Zimbabwe was dogged by charges of rigged and fraudulent elections, along with violence against opposition figures.

Biti, one of the most outspoken critics of the government, was quick to warn that while the ouster of Mugabe was welcome, the military takeover that led to his resignation set a dangerous precedent for its involvement in civilian affairs.

“The genie is out of the bottle,” Biti said in June.

European Union Joint Statement on Post -Elections Human Rights situation in Zimbabwe

Image result for harare carnival 2018
Harare International Festival 17 – 21 July 2018
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EU had the biggest observer mission to Harare for the July 30, 2018 harmonized election in Zimbabwe

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Harare International Festival 17 -21 July 2018

Zimbabwe’s churches urge lifting of international sanctions

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The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has urged the lifting of ‘punitive’ sanctions on Zimbabwe following last week’s disputed election, which saw incumbent president Emmerson Mnangagwa returned with a decisive majority.

In a ‘pastoral statement‘, the ZCC said: ‘We plead with the international community not continue the isolation of Zimbabwe on the basis of shortcomings of this election. You are fully aware that the punitive measures on the new government will not affect those in leadership but the ordinary Zimbabweans. We believe that it is in the opportunities for Zimbabweans’ access to health care, education and basic social services that the nation will flourish and grow a robust democracy.’

Emmerson Mnangagwa
ReutersZimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa looks on as he gives a media conference at the State House in Harare, August 3, 2018.

The statement acknowledged the perception that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which pronounced the elections broadly free and fair, was ‘not fully independent’ and that ‘the electoral playing field remains uneven whilst favouring incumbents’.

However, it backed the ZEC’s ‘technical conclusions’ and urged the release of supporting data.

It also reflected on the divisions that marked the election, saying: ‘The deepening polarization between urban and rural voters, younger and older voters, as well as richer and poorer voters requires urgent redress through a holistic process of nation building and envisioning. The cry of different sectors of our population requires both a pastoral and prophetic response.’

READ: The churches and the aid agencies made the same theological error

The statement urged the ruling Zanu-PF party to pursue policies aimed at unity and reform, and issued a thinly-veiled warning to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to eschew violence and beware of incendiary rhetoric. It refers to ‘the pressing need to maintain peace and not take actions that may easily deteriorate to chaos. Volatile situations tend to deteriorate and attain a life of their own beyond anyone’s control.’

Like millions of Zimbabweans, I was disappointed by the election results – but there is still hope

ByWilf Mbanga Editor of The Zimbabwean

Like millions of my fellow countrymen and women, I feel devastated that Zimbabwe has been cheated of a wonderful opportunity to make a fresh start.zimre

After 38 years of misrule under Robert Mugabe, his removal last November was a dream come true. Euphoric celebrations lasted for days. People climbed up onto the tanks that trundled into the city centres and hugged the soldiers manning them.

Our liberator, the ‘smart coup’ mastermind and former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, promised elections within a year. He was true to his word. What made us all dare to hope so hard was that he appeared to be what he said he was – a born again democrat; tolerant of divergent views, prepared to fight corruption and determined to resuscitate the moribund economy by re-engaging the west and cutting through the tangle of red tape that had stifled investment in the past.

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After 38 years of misrule under Robert Mugabe, his removal last November was a dream come true.

When he renounced Mugabe’s crude anti-west rhetoric and actively courted business delegations from the USA, Britain and the EU, opened the door to the international media and foreign election observers from every nation under the sun (banned during the Mugabe era), our hopes soared even higher.

Many of us still had misgivings of course. The memories of Mnangagwa’s ruthless ways in his various roles since 1980 – as minister of defence, justice, the intelligence services, and as Mugabe’s election agent were clear. But he got rid of Mugabe for us, and this election – open to the eyes of the world as never before – was a golden opportunity for a clean break with the past.

Millions of us in exile abroad spoke longingly of returning home. Most had fled in search of jobs as the economy collapsed, we lost our currency and our bread basket status, repression by the state became the norm and corruption became systemic. An estimated four million sought greener pastures around the world.

Then in February, veteran opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, founding president of the MDC, died of cancer. His protegee and vice-president – a firebrand young lawyer and pastor, Nelson Chamisa, sprang to the fore and charmed huge crowds all over the country with his eloquence and vigour. There was more hope for a future ruled by the new generation, who knew how the 21st century worked and what was needed for Zimbabwe to catch up with it – and not by septuagenarians who only talked about fighting the bush war in the 1970s.

As preparations for the election unfolded, however, it became all too apparent that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was still sorely compromised and there was flagrantly partisan towards Zanu-PF. Formed in 2004 as a purportedly independent body to run election, ZEC was compromised from the start. It was still staffed largely by army personnel, especially at senior levels. The catalogue of its partisan behaviour during the run-up to the election is lengthy.

Like millions of Zimbabweans, I was disappointed by the election – but there is still hope Zimbabwe opposition leader claims voting was ‘rigged’ following defeat President Emmerson Mnangagwa wins controversial Zimbabwe election It includes withholding the voters roll from the opposition MDC, until forced by a court order to release it; failing to remove the 900,000 ghost voters; leaking the phone numbers of individual voters to Zanu-PF; avoiding any semblance of transparency regarding the printing, storage and distribution of the ballot papers; and bungling the postal vote by the police force.

Its shenanigans during the election have been well documented and will undoubtedly form the basis of the MDC’s legal challenge against the official results, in which ZEC claims that Mnangagwa won 50.8% of the presidential vote.

MDC president Nelson Chamisa says that according to his records, he won 56%. Whether one believes that this election was stolen or not is immaterial.

The fact of the matter is that we now have another five years of Zanu-PF – the party that has overseen the decay of a once proud and prosperous nation. This is the party that has been synonymous with rigging elections in the past, with violence, corruption and human rights abuses on a large scale. Its upper echelons – the chefs (as they are called in local parlance) – are wealthy beyond measure, while most Zimbabweans are jobless.

Our only hope for the future is that the international business community decide to hold their noses and invest in Zimbabwe anyway. There is money to be made in Zimbabwe – and more than anything, people need jobs.

 

Source: METRO

 

It will be hard for democratic countries to embrace Mnangagwa as someone different to Mugabe

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General Chiwenga helped engineer a coup that finally toppled Robert Mugabe

The Telegraph

Op-ed by David Coltart

4th August 2018

When Robert Mugabe was removed from power in the November 2017 coup I wrote that whilst a tyrant had been removed, we had yet to remove a tyranny.

Emmerson Mnangagwa impressed me with his rhetoric when he took over as president. He spoke of a commitment to democracy, a zero tolerance to corruption, being open for business and that he would ensure free, fair and credible elections.

I was so impressed that I expressed the hope that he would be a Gorbachev rather than a Milosevic in a New Year’s message.

In the eight months since taking power the gulf between Mr Mnangagwa’s rhetoric and action has become increasingly apparent. And in the realm of democracy and the holding of credible elections, he has been found wanting.

He appointed an overtly partisan judge to head the Electoral Commission in February and since then the Commission has committed serial breaches of the Constitution and Electoral Act.

Whilst election day went smoothly and peacefully the moment the polls closed old tricks were reemployed. In one province only 105,000 people had voted between 7am and 5pm, but remarkably a further 375,000 pitched up to vote in the remaining two hours of polling.

In another province a further 10,100 voters suddenly appeared on a new voters roll illegally produced by the Commission just days before the poll.

All of this gave Mr Mnangagwa the narrow 0.8 per cent margin (some 38,000 votes) he needed to avoid a run off against Nelson Chamisa, who overcame tremendous odds to get even close.

Mr Chamisa took over a moribund MDC when Morgan Tsvangirai died in February and in a short time has totally transformed the party. By the end of his energetic campaign his rallies were attracting tens of thousands of people. On voting day he secured over a million more votes than Tsvangirai obtained in 2013.

Mr Chamisa’s defeat has shattered the hopes of young people who comprised the bulk of his support base. On Wednesday young men, sensing a fraud being perpetrated, protested. It turned violent when Zanu PF property was attacked.

Whilst the police could and should have dealt with the situation, Mr Mnangagwa (the only person constitutionally able) deployed soldiers, clearly with orders to shoot to kill with live bullets in central Harare. Six people, nearly all innocent bystanders, some women running away, were killed, another score seriously injured.

Any pretence that there is a “new dispensation” has been shattered in that one act.

Mr Mnangagwa had two objectives this year: he had to win an election and establish his legitimacy after the coup which he benefitted from. He has now won the election, but under such a cloud that it will be hard for democratic countries to embrace him as someone different to Mr Mugabe. Indeed he now bears the marks of a Milosovic, not a Gorbachev.

But Zimbabwe must not be allowed to wallow further. The international community should insist that compliance with Zimbabwe’s constitution be a prerequisite for further engagement.

Amongst other things that means the military must be returned to their barracks, the media opened up and basic civil liberties respected.

Zanu PF have won, by hook or by crook, the two thirds majority needed to change the Constitution as they please. Zimbabwe’s constitution, adopted by a 95 per cent majority in the 2013 referendum, enjoys the will of the people; Zanu PF should be told unequivocally that moves to dilute the democratic provisions in the constitution will be met by continued international isolation.

A carrot and stick approach should be adopted. If the Constitution is respected and implemented in all its fullness, then further engagement can proceed, but not before.

Mr Chamisa must be encouraged to remain committed to using the law and non-violent means to make his case before the court of international opinion.

Mr Chamisa has already confirmed that the MDC will use all legal and constitutional means to overturn this fraudulent result. The problem we face is that any electoral challenge will be brought before a partisan judiciary which has a notorious history of siding with Zanu PF. Accordingly the international community must insist on a demonstrably fair process before neutral judges (Zimbabwe has them) and provide observers to any such legal challenge.

Zimbabwe remains a country of enormous potential and opportunity, but that will remain illusory until democracy and the rule of law is respected by all Zimbabweans and the international community.

Senator David Coltart was a founder of the Movement for Democratic Change and Zimbabwean Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture 2009-2013. He is he author of “The Struggle Continues: 50 years of tyranny in Zimbabwe”

Zimbabwe Recent Election Arguably The Best The Country Ever Had In More Than 20 Years – Peter Pham, Director Of Africa Centre For The Atlantic Council

By Crimson Tazvinzwa

Shooting unarmed civilians cast a shadow on an otherwise peaceful and successful poll – Peter Pham

zimre

Zimbabwe’s recent poll has been touted as peaceful and successful despite the shooting of unarmed civilians which left six dead and millions of dollars worth in property destroyed.

The Director of Africa Centre for The Atlantic Council, Mr. Peter Pham says Zimbabwe’s recently held harmonised elections were largely peaceful despite the violence that ensued – casting a shadow on an otherwise the best election the country has had in 20-years.

“Certainly it was not a level playing field by any stretch of the imagination. Media coverage was almost exclusively given to the incumbent President, very little to the challengers.

“There are also questions about the voter’s rolls being manipulated, ghost voters being there – these are some of the various questions that need to be answered.”

Pham says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission didn’t ‘cover itself in glory either – with its delays in publishing the result which subsequently heightened suspicion and tensions.’

“On the other hand, the opposition didn’t help themselves either. They were divided. In  some places they even ran two candidates against each other; and in cities they should have won like Bulawayo,” Pham observed.

Pham castigated  Mr. Nelson Chamisa of the MDC-T for making victory claims ahead of official announcement; which he says created heightened tensions.

READ MORE: MDC-T offices in Bulawayo closed by police

He also says Zimbabwe needs to learn the lessons and move on noting that the incumbent, Mr. Mnangagwa will need to display statesmanship behaviour to claim legitimacy; adding, otherwise there are dark days ahead.

READ MORE: Ramaphosa congratulates Mnangagwa on Zimbabwe election victory

READ MORE: Zimbabwe news latest: South Africa urges peace as Emmerson Mnangagwa’s supporters celebrate elections victory