HARARE – The MDC Alliance is racing against time in its desperate bid to overturn results of the just-ended polls, with the party keeping the whole world guessing about the veracity of the evidence it claims to have gathered to justify a vote recount.
MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, has rejected in toto the poll outcome, alleging the under-fire Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) rigged the ballot in Zanu PF’s favour.
Chamisa had polled 44,9 percent of the vote – trailing president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa, who scrapped through with 50,8 percent of the vote.
Despite rebuffing the election results, the MDC Alliance has been keeping its tactics a closely-guarded secret although it may not be long before the verdict is known.
In terms of the national charter, the MDC Alliance has up to Friday to lodge its court application at the Constitutional Court (Con-Court). If it fails to do so within seven days after the declaration of the results by the Zec, on August 3, Mnangagwa would be sworn-in as head of State and government.
Assuming a court challenge is filed within the seven days, the Con-Court must expeditiously hear and determine the petition or application within 14 days after it has been lodged.
Its decision shall be final.
As of yesterday, it was still not clear if the MDC Alliance would take the court route or pile up diplomatic pressure on Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF.
Zec’s acting chief elections officer Utoile Silaigwana, told the Daily News yesterday that they have not yet received any formal communication from the MDC Alliance.
He said: “I cannot comment on something that I have not seen. I don’t want to comment on issues based on speculation. I can only comment on something that would have been officially communicated to us”.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo told the Daily News that any contestations should only be addressed in court.
“That’s a matter for the court; I can’t comment on this,” he said, while declining to comment on other avenues that could be used to resolve the impasse.
The MDC Alliance has remained cryptic about the options available to its leadership, with its critics saying the party could be grandstanding.
Asked if they were comfortable with a recount, an MDC Alliance official who refused to be named said: “We will not arm our enemy by giving away our strategy but we are working hard to ensure that we expose this fraud. All we want is to reclaim our victory; that is what we will do but how we will do it is not for the public.”
Analysts canvassed by the Daily News yesterday said a vote recount would be the best way out of the quagmire.
The chairperson of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network Andrew Makoni said a recount was possible only if the MDC Alliance has compelling evidence to support its claims.
“But this will not just happen but that it takes a complainant to lodge a complaint with Zec. Chamisa has to produce evidence that indeed there were discrepancies, but it has to be an official complaint.
“In 2008 there was a recount in 23 constituencies, so it is possible. I think it might take a maximum of three days to recount the presidential vote,” said Makoni.
Zimbabwe has been a volatile State especially during election period, and the outcome has always been a subject of contestation from the opposition, which accuses the ruling Zanu PF party of rigging the elections through various means.
Zanu PF has been accused of using vote-buying tactics, beating opposition supporters and using traditional chiefs, among other sinister moves to subdue the opposition vote.
Harare lawyer Chris Mhike said “having lost quite a few days already, the opposition would therefore at this stage be encouraged to synthesise the ‘‘evidence’’ that we’ve heard about into a petition or application with a view to convincing the Con-Court that a recount was appropriate or necessary.”
In determining the petition or application, the Con-Court may invalidate the election or make any other order it considers just and appropriate.
Election Resource Centre executive director Tawanda Chimhini said there was need for an initiative to be taken for the presidential votes to be recounted. “It’s possible but a recount needs to be requested for it to be prompted.”
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said a recount was theoretically the best way out, but practically it throws the country into a leadership vacuum and chaos.
“More-so when both Mnangagwa and Chamisa claim victory by very small margins. Supporters from either side may protest the outcome of the recount citing this and that reason and we will descent in a serious political crisis,” said Saungweme.
He said a vote recount would be a tragedy for the country as it poses the potential danger of creating chaos and can only be avoided for the sake of maintaining peace.
“It’s unheard of in recent history where an election commission announces results and they recounted in full glare of everyone.
“The reason why losing candidates have to concede defeat graciously is from the understanding that the country comes first and stability of the country is important.
“This is why (Kenyan opposition leader) Raila (Odinga) facing circumstances Chamisa is facing now had to concede,” said Saungweme.
The MDC Alliance has been keeping its cards close to its chest and its next move remains a mystery, with suggestions that it was averse to the legal route.
Its leader, Chamisa previously expressed reservations about approaching the courts on the pretext that they are controlled by Zanu PF, a scenario which might make the outcome a foregone conclusion.