No let-up for Emmerson Mnangagwa as alliance plots next step
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is being sworn in today, faces a turbulent start to his tenure as opposition leaders who reject his election victory plot their next move.
Indications are that after Friday's Constitutional Court ruling, which upheld Mnangagwa's victory in the July 30 election, the opposition will take its fight to the streets.
"The legal doors are not the only ones available, political doors are going to be opened," MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa told a news conference yesterday at MDC-T headquarters in Harare.
"This includes the right to peaceful demonstrations. This will be done in a very short space of time."
Chamisa said he "respectfully disagreed" with the court ruling.
"I am supposed to be the leader of Zimbabwe. The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and AU will be coming to endorse a failed leadership at the inauguration."
In an address to the nation hours after Friday's ruling, Mnangagwa urged all parties to put aside their differences. "It is time to build our nation and to move forward together," he said.
The South African government called on Zimbabweans to accept the court decision "to work towards lasting peace and unity", and the EU delegation to Zimbabwe said "all stakeholders should call for calm and restraint in both victory and defeat".
But MDC-T secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora also suggested "political solutions" to put pressure on Mnangagwa would be discussed at a meeting of opposition leaders on Wednesday.
"We will act within the confines of the law. The fundamental rights available to us include section 59 of the constitution and that is the right to demonstrate," said Mwonzora.
There are also likely to be discussions about reconfiguring the seven-party alliance into a single organisation.
The MDC-T is the largest party in the alliance, followed by the MDC led by Welshman Ncube and the People's Democratic Party led by Tendai Biti. The other members are Transform Zimbabwe, Zanu Ndonga, the Multi-Racial Christian Democrats and Zimbabwe People First.
In an interview, Ncube - who is the alliance spokesperson - said he hoped a single party would be forged.
"The alliance agreement says it must subsist for the duration of the five-year term of the parliament," he said.
"We then have resolutions and agreements to do with integration … and now we hope that other alliance partners agree and in the next few months this will see us have one centre, and a clear leadership structure will emerge."
Ncube said the alliance did not agree with "the reasoning and conclusion" of the Constitutional Court.
"But we accept that [the ruling] is final and there is no place that we can appeal to further.
"We will now have to go back to the drawing board and have consultations with the millions of people that are disappointed by this outcome - and these are over 2-million voters.
"Their dream for a better Zimbabwe has not been defeated, it has just been deferred, and not even guns will stop it."
Handing down Friday's ruling, chief justice Luke Malaba said the nine judges had been unanimous that "the [MDC Alliance] failed to place before the court clear, direct, sufficient and credible evidence that irregularities marred the election".
On August 10, Chamisa asked the court to set aside the 50.8% of the votes won by Mnangagwa and declare himself the winner. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said Chamisa won 44.3% of the votes.
But the alliance failed to produce proof of irregularities, undermining Chamisa's earlier boasts of "overwhelming evidence" of rigging, and Malaba said alliance advocate Thabani Mpofu had relied on "generalisations".
Reacting to the ruling, Mnangagwa said it was "rare" to find a full bench making a unanimous decision, and it pointed to the strength of his legal team's approach.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Paul Mangwana said Mnangagwa would now be able to roll out his programme aimed at reviving the economy. "This means that President Mnangagwa can move forward and implement the key reforms needed to turn around the economy. He can and will be able to transform this economy."
Mnangagwa wants Zimbabwe to be a middle-income country by 2030. But the challenges he faces include a severe dollar shortage, contraction of the manufacturing sector and an estimated debt of nearly $10.2bn owed to Western financial institutions. Last year, Trading Economics put GDP at $17bn.
Mnangagwa's inauguration at the National Sports Stadium in Harare today is expected to be attended by several heads of state from Sadc...