Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Con-Court must rise above partisan politics

By Gift Phiri

The Constitutional Court (Con-Court) will tomorrow hear for the first time in its five-year history a case involving a presidential election, in which the nine justices will weigh a decision by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to declare Zanu PF presidential nominee Emmerson Mnangagwa the winner of the July 30 election against the Zimbabwe Constitution and State elections laws.

Chief Justice Luke Malaba
Chief Justice Luke Malaba

Attorneys for MDC Alliance presidential nominee Nelson Chamisa, aka Olympus, and Mnangagwa, will come under sharp questioning at Mashonganyika Building from the justices, seeking to determine why Olympus should not be declared the president.

It is now two days from what could be the defining event of this presidential election.

It has been almost three weeks of legal limbo. We are now two days from what may be the beginning of that end. Oral arguments are due to get under way before the highest court in the land.

Lawyers for two presidential candidates will debate the one issue that could decide the presidential race.

It’s a big story, with Daily News court troops entrenched along the many fronts of this legal battle.

The hearing will be evenly divided in the case of Chamisa versus Mnangagwa.

Lawyers from the rival camps agree on one issue: A ruling against them will likely end their bid for Munhumutapa — the citadel of government power. The whole country has been anticipating this momentous day.

This election is now in the hands of the nine justices of the Con-Court, who are being asked to rule on the process that will decide the way in which the final vote pans out.

The nine justices will have to deal with their discomfort by trying to insulate themselves from the political issues and really focus in on the legal issues. They must closely look at the evidence, not the political crucible that’s going on outside the courthouse.

The issues before this court, as presented by Olympus’ lawyers, who are the petitioning lawyers here, are two-fold. Chamisa’s lead advocate Thabani Mpofu has asked the Con-Court to nullify the July 30 vote.

The Con-Court can declare a new winner or order a fresh election.

It is now before this court. That’s what we will be watching for as the court process gets underway, and with many watching across the world as State TV has been given the exclusive rights to beam this live.

The Con-Court is ultimately being asked to choose the next president of Zimbabwe. That is heavy in the air, heavy politically.

Sadly, because of Zec’s shameful partisanship and apparent dereliction of duty, this court has become the final arbiter, the deciding factor in a right that should have ordinarily been rightfully exercised by citizens in the ballot booth.

No one can tell right off the bat what the court is going to do. But it is very important that whatever the court decides, that all of us in our country get behind, whichever way it goes, and it could go either way in this particular case.

We pray and hope these justices will do what they believe is right, in the best interest of the country, without consideration of politics.

The Con-Court must not end up with a decision that is seen as partisan, and the July 30 polls show that most Zimbabwean think this was. That’s my concern.

There is no question the nine justices realise that the eyes of the country are on them, that whatever decision they come out with is going to be closely scrutinised, and they are certainly going to feel the need to provide very powerful justifications for any decision that comes out.

But now it’s in front of them, and they are going to have to decide it, and they are well aware that, in this sort of the partisan battle that’s been going on, they may get sucked into it and that their legitimacy is on the line.

My hope is that they come up with a unanimous vote. Yes, there could be dissenting judgments.

Whether we agree or disagree, we will support it, as we should, as Zimbabwe should.

This is a country where our Constitution provides a means whereby we can resolve these matters in an appropriate manner.

Isn’t it wonderful that we are able to do that, and we’re able to protest election results and make fuss, but all get behind whatever, I think, happens in the next couple of days? This time, depending on the decision, the Con-Court, the court of last resort in Zimbabwe, has the onerous task of deciding the next President of the Republic. –DailyNews