Blow for MDC Alliance court bid
The MDC Alliance’s Nelson Chamisa has been dealt a major setback in his Constitutional Court appeal against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s narrow July 30 presidential election victory in Zimbabwe.
With the matter set to be heard in front of a full bench of nine judges on Wednesday‚ Chief Justice Luke Malaba on Friday rejected some of the evidence lodged by the opposition.
According to a memorandum addressed to Chamisa's lawyers‚ some of the evidence was allegedly submitted after the set deadline had passed.
“After consultation with the Chief Justice a decision was made that these documents could not be accepted‚” reads a letter written by the Registrar of the Constitutional Court.
The registrar also added that repeated attempts to reach out to Chamisa’s lawyers had been made but that they had not been forthcoming in collecting their material.
Sources within the MDC Alliance said the documents include the much-talked-about bundle by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).
So far indications are that the MDC Alliance’s court appeal could be decided on technical grounds‚ with the three primary respondents‚ ZEC‚ president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa and ZEC chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba‚ in their opposing papers raising issues about out-of-time technical arguments.
“The effect of Chief Justice Malaba's decision to reject and send back the documents outside court and without hearing the parties‚ is to throw out evidence on the basis of an argument raised by respondents and is tantamount to siding with one party and giving that party a head start or advantage before the hearing of the matter set for August 22 2018‚” said an MDC Alliance insider.
On Monday‚ Chamisa said the MDC Alliance would thoroughly assess the court outcome before taking any step in the event that they lose the appeal.
“We will assess the process and then make the necessary pronouncement. What we cannot do is say we will accept whatever comes‚” he said.
Mnangagwa warned that the court challenge could have serious effects on the concerned parties.
“The disappointment naturally felt by a candidate‚ his election agent‚ and supporters on his failure to secure election‚ often causes a keen desire to appeal to the law. The sting of defeat is hard to bear.. but everyone aiding or concerned in the presentation of an election petition‚ should carefully consider and be advised upon the whole position‚ before adopting so serious a step‚ and should well weigh all the consequences that may ensure from either the success or failure of a petition.
"There is no legal proceeding which is more far reaching in its effects‚ which excites a greater amount of animosity‚ personal feeling and hostility‚” he said in his heads of argument.
Meanwhile‚ the Ministry of Legal Affairs said it would not stand in the way of South African advocates Dali Mpofu and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi in their bid to represent Nelson Chamisa.
The lawyers on Friday applied for work permits and their matter is being handled by the Law Society of Zimbabwe - which has the right to grant or deny their request.