Zimbabwe’s opposition coalition has filed a legal challenge to results of the country’s recent election, in a move that delays the inauguration of Emmerson Mnangagwa as president of Zimbabwe.
The MDC alliance filed their paperwork with Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court on Friday, alleging the result of the July 30 vote had been rigged in favour of incumbent Mnangagwa, the leader of the ruling ZANU-PF party.
“Our legal team successfully filed our court papers. We have a good case and cause!!” MDC leader Nelson Chamisa said on Twitter.
Party lawyers arrived at the court in the capital, Harare, with plastic boxes full of paperwork.
“We will rest when this country is liberated,” Jameson Timba, the MDC’s chief election agent, told journalists standing outside.
Zimbabwe’s electoral commission has said Mnangagwa won the election, the first without longtime President Robert Mugabe on the ballot form, garnering 50.8 percent of the vote against 44.3 percent for Chamisa.
Chamisa has claimed he won 56 percent of votes and called the election “fraudulent, illegal and illegitimate”.
“The MDC alliance say some of the evidence they have shows forms that have been tampered with, figures changed here and there – and they’re going to present that in court,” said Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from Harare.
Judges have 14 days to rule on the case, delaying the inauguration of Mnangagwa which was scheduled for Sunday.
“If [the judges] think the evidence is weak they could throw the case out fairly fast. They could also just say that they need time to go through the evidence, which could take a couple of days,” Mutasa said.
‘Un-level playing field’
Mnangagwa, who took over after a military intervention in November 2017, had vowed the first elections after the conclusion of Mugabe’s 37-year rule would be free and fair.
EU observers said that the ZANU-PF candidate had benefitted from an “un-level playing field” and some voter intimidation, though international monitors largely praised the conduct of the election.
On August 1, clashes broke out between security forces and opposition supporters. Six died after soldiers opened fire on the protesters in a response the opposition alliance called “disproportionate and unjustified”.
On Thursday, opposition figure Tendai Biti was detained by Zimbabwean police after Zambian authorities rejected his bid for asylum.
Police were looking for Biti and eight other opposition leaders for allegedly fomenting violence following the disputed national election.